The German sprinter beat Mark Cavendish -- his former teammate and sometimes adversary -- by a wheel Tuesday to capture the 10th stage of a race that is soon to leave the flatlands for the climbs of the Pyrenees.
Thomas Voeckler, of France, kept the yellow jersey after nestling safely in the main pack for most of the day. Defending champion Alberto Contador did the same, and the Spaniard had even more reason to be careful after hurting his right knee during crashes in the fifth and ninth stages.
"At the beginning of the stage, I wasn't sure what to think," said Contador, a three-time champion. "But as the stage progressed my knee was feeling less sore."
Contador, the best climber in the world, trails main rivals Cadel Evans, of Australia, and Andy Schleck, of Luxembourg, by 1:41 and 1:30 entering today's flat run.
Greipel and Cavendish clashed last year while on the HTC-Highroad team. Greipel, who now rides for Omega Pharma-Lotto team, was in a conciliatory mood.
"I have a lot of respect for Cavendish -- he was won 17 stages of the Tour de France. Now I have one," Greipel said. "He was not always really friendly with his comments (about) me. This is not my level. I just try to show on the bike what I am able to do."