The Lotto NL-Jumbo rider, who won the final stage to Paris previous year, had by his own admission suffered a disappointing start to the 2018 Tour before his show of power to beat Gaviria into second and Peter Sagan into third.
Mark Cavendish remains stuck on 30 stage wins on the Tour after once again failing to fire over the finishing stretch, initially crossing in 10th before being elevated two places after Greipel and Gaviria were punished.
"I didn't have the legs to be first or second, and third is better than fourth", Sagan said.
"The legs have been better every day", Groenewegen said, adding that "the team did an incredible job and put me in a great position".
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Gaviria ended up second and earned precious points after missing the final sprint in the last two stages.
One of the riders to get away with him was race leader Greg Van Avermaet of BMC Racing, who had held a 43-second lead over Team Sky's Geraint Thomas on the General Classification this morning and had been expected to lose the yellow jersey, but managed to extend his lead. A total of 21.7km of cobbles await on the 156.5km stage north from Arras. That increased his lead over Froome's teammate Geraint Thomas in second to 7 seconds and his own BMC teammate Tejay Van Garderen to 9 seconds.
No clear favorite has emerged from the opening block of racing as all the top riders, with the exception of Richie Porte, are still in contention on the first rest day before grueling stages in the Alps.
"It could go either way tomorrow", he said.
Frenchman Warren Barguil, a former team mate of Degenkolb's who was also in the 2016 accident in Spain, said: "Everybody was saying he was finished, I'm so happy for him".
"There are going to be losses on GC and it just depends what side of that you are on - we hope to be on the right side".