Andre Greipel continued his brilliant form in the 2015 Tour with a magnificent display of power to fend off his sprinting rivals and win an intriguing Stage 15.
The 183-kilometres route from Mende to Valence took place in 35C heat and had a familiar winner from the bunch sprints, as German Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) followed his successes on stage two to Zeeland and stage five to Amiens.
John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) was second and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) third, with Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) fourth.
Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) had been hoping for a 27th Tour stage win of his career in Valence, but was distanced early on and his wife Peta said on Twitter that he was ill.
It was likely the last opportunity for the sprinters before next week's concluding stage in Paris, on July 26.
Greg van Avermaet showed powers of perseverance to hold off Peter Sagan and win Friday's 13th stage from Muret to Rodez.
Joaquim Rodriguez battled the elements to ride to a wonderful solo victory on a rain-hit Stage 12 as Chris Froome endured significant attacks from his rivals to maintain a large lead in the yellow jersey.
Rodriguez, the Spanish rider who won stage three of this year's Tour, soloed to victory on the 195-kilometre route from Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille.
Rafal Majka won stage 11 of the Tour de France to Cauterets as Chris Froome defended his considerable advantage in the yellow jersey.
Chris Froome provided the Bastille Day fireworks on the Tour de France's first mountain day with a victory on stage 10 to La Pierre-Saint-Martin which distanced his rivals in the race for the yellow jersey.
Chris Froome held on to the Tour de France race leader's yellow jersey as Team Sky were beaten by one second on the ninth stage team time-trial from Vannes to Plumelec.
Froome began the day with a lead of 11 seconds over Tinkoff-Saxo's Peter Sagan and 13secs over Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racing.
The 2013 champion was influential in Team Sky finishing in 32 minutes 16 seconds, but Tejay van Garderen's BMC Racing squad won by the most slender of margins.
Tony Martin crashed in a frantic finale to stage six of the Tour de France in Le Havre on Thursday before the overall race leader rolled over the line. It was later confirmed that he had broken his collarbone and is now likely to abandon the Tour.