Chris Froome is looking forward to seeing the road ramp up as the 100th Tour de France heads towards the mountains this weekend.
The Tour favourite is eight seconds off the lead held by his former team-mate Daryl Impey - the first African to wear the yellow jersey - after today's stage six to Montpellier.
But where today's stage was pancake flat for long stages, tomorrow's run to Albi features four categorised climbs and that is only a warm-up for a weekend in the Pyrenees. This is where the first major moves in the general classification battle should come, and Froome is eager to start climbing.
"It's been a stressful week so far, but good at the same time," the 28-year-old Team Sky rider said.
"On the whole we've come through it really well as a team and we're sitting in a really good position now heading before into the Pyrenees.
"It's been quite nerve wracking in the flats, everyone is quite close on the GC, everyone's fighting for position, but hopefully once we hit the climbs it's going to open up a little bit more and the race will calm down a bit."
While the roads on today's stage were straightforward enough in themselves, the famed Mistral winds howled and temperatures neared 30 degrees to give the peloton plenty to deal with.
Among those to take a spill was Mark Cavendish, who appeared to blow his chance of the stage win as he came off 34 kilometres from the finish, with the effort of catching the peloton leaving him short of energy in the sprint.
There was plenty of action at the front of the peloton too, where the teams protecting general classification contenders were frequently seen massing just as the sprint teams were trying to get their lead-outs set up.
"There was a lot of pushing and shoving today," Froome said. "I can understand the sprinters wanting a clean sprint - they don't want GC riders in their way trying to hold positions - but I can also see it from the GC riders' point of view.
"If we don't stay up there and fight for positions we're going to lose seconds in the final like we did today. I think most of the GC guys got a gap of five seconds today.
"I'm very happy with where we are, though. We're in a great position and I'm really pleased with the team I've got around me, both on and off the bike, so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into next week."
There were no further punctures for Sky to deal with today after both Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas required wheel changes on stage five to Marseille yesterday, incidents the team blamed on tacks placed in the road by spectators.
"The (tacks) were in the tyres when we inspected them after the race, and a few other teams also experienced similar problems," Team Sky sports director Nicolas Portal said on the team's website.
"That's a bit of a worry but thankfully nobody was hurt."
Froome avoided both the tacks and two major crashes near the end of the stage while neither Porte nor Thomas lost any time, although the stop for a change of tyre and another standing start caused further pain for Thomas, who has been riding on a cracked pelvis since a crash on the opening stage.
The Welshman's grit has earned him a new level of respect on the team bus, and Froome is now confident Thomas will be okay to continue after coming through the toughest part of the recovery process.
"He's still been pulling his weight and still doing his job, even though he's got a fractured pelvis," Froome said.
"Each days he's feeling better and better each day and I expect him to go all the way to the end now."
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