Chris Froome
Froome remain in the lead as the race enters the final third. Getty Images

Chris Froome kept out of trouble to maintain his stranglehold on the Tour de France after stage 13.

The 2013 champ avoided the possibility of unluckily being caught in a late crash as he came home sixth at the end of the 123-mile stage in Rodez.

BMC's Greg van Avermaet held off Slovakia's Peter Sagan to claim the biggest win of his career in a two-man duel.

Froome led home all his main rivals at the end of another swelteringly hot day as riders put ice blocks down their jersey to try and keep cool.

The Team Sky rider still leads by two minutes 52 seconds from American Tejay van Garderen with Colombia's Nairo Quintana 17 secs further back.

After the last three days in the Pyrenees, the race returned to the flatter roads after the riders set off from Muret.

But with a finish a 400-metre uphill sprint that ruled out any hopes of a Mark Cavendish win.

The finish should have been perfectly suited to Peter Sagan who leads the points or green jersey classification for the most consistent rider.

But the Slovakian was unexpectedly beaten by his Belgian rival after sitting up near the finish having being forced to change his line of attack.

The defeat was met by a furious reaction from his team owner Oleg Tinkov which will fuel speculation Sagan is out at the end of the season.

Tinkov tweeted: "i f****** crashed my Bang&Olufsen TV set. the team was working hard, he was well positioned, karma."

Van Avermaet's victory comes just three months after his Belgian federation wanted him banned for alleged doping offences.

But van Avermaet, 30, who protested his innocence was subsequently cleared of all allegations.

Welsh rider Geraint Thomas is still fifth overall, four mins three secs back on team-mate Froome.