Tour de France 2013: Stage 6 preview (video)

Video: After a long and chaotic stage 5, won in the end by Britain's Mark Cavendish, attentions turn on Thursday to the 177-km stage 6 between Aix-en-Provence and Montpellier. See below for an preview of the day's race including an expert analyis.

Tour de France 2013: Stage 6 preview (video)
Map of the route from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier on Stage 6 of the Tour de France. Photo: Tour de France/Screengrab

CLICK HERE for the results and report from Thursday's stage 6 of the Tour de France

A relatively flat route between tourist haven Aix-en-Provence, through some of the most picturesque landscapes in southern France, and on to Montpellier, should suit the sprinters on stage 6.

The story of the day, however, could end up being Darly Impey, an Orica-GreenEdge rider who only needs to finish eight places ahead of tour-leader Simon Gerrans, to become the first South African in history to wear the yellow jersey.

Before the Pyrenees present the first real test of this year's Tour de France, there should be another chance for the sprinters to impress on Thursday's sixth stage from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier.

The 176-kilometre ride is shorter than Wednesday's stage into Marseille, and flatter too, with just one category four climb to tackle in the shape of the Col de la Vayede, which comes with more than 100 km still to go.

However, the conditions in southern France could present the sternest test of all. Temperatures are expected to be warmer than in recent days, with the mercury nudging up towards 30 centigrade, while gusting Mistral winds could pose a real challenge.

Alberto Contador may have won the Tour in 2009, but only after losing 41 seconds as he struggled through the unforgiving crosswinds on that year's third stage from Marseille to La Grande-Motte.

While the main riders in the general classification will be striving to keep out of trouble as the winds threaten to blow at up to 70 km an hour, the sprinters will be aiming for more stage glory.

After a slow start to this year's Tour, in part due to a struggle with illness, Mark Cavendish will be hoping to make it two stage wins in as many days in Montpellier after pipping his one-time teammate Edvald Boasson Hagen and last year's green jersey winner Peter Sagan on the line in Marseille on Wednesday.

Cavendish won the last time the Tour came to Montpellier so knows what is required, but plenty of other riders will be desperate to notch a stage win, including the German duo of Andre Greipel and Marcel Kittel.

Kittel, who wore the yellow jersey after winning Saturday's opening stage on Corsica, was hoping to make an impact on Wednesday but was one of numerous riders to go to ground as two mass crashes marred the closing 16 km.

"Thursday will be another chance, the team is looking good and everybody is focused and motivated. So I am really looking forward to that," said Kittel after the finish in Marseille.

The following is an expert video preview of Stage 6 from Global Cycling Network.

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Inaugural Women’s Tour de France to start at Eiffel Tower

The route for the inaugural women's Tour de France was unveiled on Thursday with eight stages, embarking from the Eiffel Tower on July 24th next year.

French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race.
French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race. Photo: Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP.

The first complete edition of the women’s version of cycling’s iconic race starts on the day the 109th edition of the men’s Tour ends.

After a route that winds through northern France, the race culminates in the Planche des Belles Filles climb in the Vosges mountains.

Danish cyclist Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig said she was over the moon to be taking part.

“I want it to be July now so we can get stared,” she said actually jumping up and down.

“The Tour de France is a reference and when you say you are a cyclist people ask about that. Now I can say I race the Tour de France,” she said after the presentation.

MAP: Details of 2022 Tour de France (and Denmark) revealed

Race director Marion Rousse, a former French cycling champion and now a TV commentator, told AFP it would be a varied course that would maintain suspense over the eight days.

“It is coherent in a sporting sense, and we wanted to start from Paris,” she said of the 1,029km run.

“With only eight stages we couldn’t go down to the Alps or the Pyrenees, the transfers would be too long.

“The stages obviously are shorter for the women than for the men’s races. The men can go 225 kilometres. For the women the longest race on our roster is 175km and we even needed special dispensation for that,” she said. “But it’s a course I love.”

Christian Prudhomme, the president of the Tour de France organisers, was equally enthusiastic.

“The fact it sets off from Paris the day the men’s race ends gives the new race a boost because it sets the media up to follow it more easily.

“It also means that with the Tour de France starting on July 1st and the women’s race ending on the 31st, there will be cycling on television every day of July.”

The men’s race is broadcast in around 190 countries.