Marcel Kittel has been the man of the Tour so far with three wins to his credit but he was a notable absentee as the riders barreled in for the finish line.
Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) took full advantage for the sixth Tour stage win of his career when he beat off the challenge of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) with Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r La Mondiale) third.
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finished safely in the pack to retain the race leader’s yellow jersey he claimed on stage two in Sheffield while Ireland’s Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) had a much better day yesterday, though he did lose over a minute. He is now 55th overall, over 15 minutes down on Nibali but all his focus is on trying to support team leader Alberto Contador for the remainder of the race.
Team Sky’s problems continued on another wet and miserable day as Spaniard Xabier Zandio joined Chris Froome in exiting the race with a suspected broken collarbone.
Froome abandoned on Wednesday’s fifth stage after the pain caused by three crashes in two days, with Zandio following after being caught up in a crash after 79km.
It means Richie Porte, who inherited the leadership of Team Sky from Froome, now has just six team-mates to call upon with the race less than a week old.
Egor Silin (Katusha) also quit after the large crash, which also caught up Arnaud Demare (FDJ), while Jesus Hernandez (Tinkoff-Saxo), a key mountain domestique for Alberto Contador, abandoned soon afterwards.
The top of the general classification was unchanged, with Nibali retaining the maillot jaune.
“It wasn’t a quiet stage at all,” Nibali said.
“On paper it should have been like that but nervousness was always there in the peloton because of the wind.
“In the finale in particular, we could feel it but I was well covered by my team.
“I still want to take it day by day and keep my feet on the ground.”
Elsewhere, Dan Martin went close to a stage win at the Tour of Austria yesterday as he continues his recovery from the broken collarbone he suffered at the Giro d’Italia in May. The Garmin-SHARP man was fifth on stage five and is now 18th overall just over four minutes down.
Meanwhile, up and coming Irish rider Michael O’Loughlin finished 24th out of 72 riders in the European Junior Men’s Time-Trial in Nyon, Switzerland yesterday.
The first-year junior, who rides for the Standard Life Nicolas Roche Performance Team, clocked a time of 37:22.72 seconds for the 26.9 kilometre circuit, 1minute 47 seconds slower than the winner, Lennard Kamna of Germany.