Slovakian rider Peter Sagan has won the hilly seventh stage of the Tour de France in a sprint finish, and Daryl Impey keeps the overall race lead.
Sagan held off a challenge from John Degenkolb of Germany to clinch his first stage victory in this year's Tour and extend his lead in the contest for the sprinters' green jersey. Italian sprinter Daniele Bennati was third.
Impey began the day as the first South African rider to wear the yellow jersey, but he will likely relinquish it after Saturday's first of two difficult days of climbing in the high mountains of the Pyrenees.
Impey leads Norwegian sprinter Edvald Boasson Hagen by three seconds overall and his Orica Greenedge teammate Simon Gerrans by five seconds. None are considered contenders for the title.
VAN VELDE WITHDRAWS
Veteran American rider Christian Vande Velde has pulled out after his second crash of the race.
His Garmin-Sharp team said the 37-year-old suffered "multiple contusions and abrasions" in a crash Friday on Stage 7 from Montpellier to Albi.
Vande Velde was riding with severe back pain and a blood clot in his neck muscle sustained in an earlier crash on Stage 5.
The team says the accumulation of injuries from two crashes in three days forced him out of the Tour.
It is the third time the American has failed to finish the Tour.
In 2001, Vande Velde crashed out during a wet team time trial stage and three years ago he had to abandon after falling in a mass pile-up on stage three.