VIDEO: Tour de France Stage 7 preview

As the first week of the Tour de France comes to a close, riders will have to contend with four 'categorised' climbs on Friday's Stage 7 from Montpellier to Albi as the peloton heads towards the Pyrenรฉes.

VIDEO: Tour de France Stage 7 preview
The route from Montpellier to Albi on Friday's Stage 7 of the Tour de France. Photo: Le Tour/Screengrab

After six days of thrilling sprint finishes, breathtaking scenery, and plenty of cuts and bruises, riders in this year's Tour de France riders will face a punishing 206-km journey from Montpellier to Albi on Friday as the peloton heads towards the Pyrenées mountains.

But before the really big climbs of Saturday and Sunday, there should not be too much punishment for the peloton, even if there are a total of four categorised ascents on the menu.

The most testing of those will be the category two Col de la Croix de Mounis, while the last, the category four Cote de Teillet 34.5 km from the finish, should be too far from the line to be used as a springboard for a "puncher" with victory ambitions.

The main yellow jersey contenders will be saving themselves for the challenges in store at the weekend.

So, unless a breakaway prevails, the stage could once again end in a sprint finish in the town where French great Andre Darrigade recorded the first of his 22 Tour stage wins back in 1953.

That means this could be another opportunity for last year's green jersey winner Peter Sagan to extend his lead in this year's points standings or a chance for Mark Cavendish, Andre Greipel and Marcel Kittel to record a second stage win so far on this year's Tour.

Meanwhile, Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen could be another contender before his team fully focus their attention on the general classification at the weekend.

After searing heat marked Thursday's ride from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier, high temperatures will once again present a test for the riders with the mercury expected to rise to a maximum of 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), and 23C in the mountains.

Find out everything you need to know with this expert video preview 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.