Cycling: Germany's Kittel chasing more glory on flat

TOURS, France - The sprinters are set to take centre stage for the second day in a row in the Tour de France on Friday, with the 13th stage another largely flat ride.

The 173-kilometre stage from Tours on the banks of the Loire River to Saint-Amand-Montrond in central France takes a more undulating route than Wednesday's stage 12 but it will nevertheless be a final chance for the sprinters to impress before the race heads into the Alps.

Breaking up the day will be the short, fourth-category climb of the Cote de Crotz at the 77.5km mark but otherwise it could be a crucial stage in the race for the green jersey.

That means there could be more drama involving the likes of Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel, with the latter going for his fourth stage win on this year's Tour - something his compatriot Erik Zabel never managed, even when he was winning the green jersey six years in a row.

Kittel must be considered the favourite with a bunch sprint for the line seemingly inevitable on the 450-metre-long final straight.

Meanwhile, overall race leader Chris Froome will be happy to play it safe and conserve some more energy as Sunday's stage to the legendary Mont Ventoux approaches.

The small town of Saint-Amant-Montrond has welcomed just two previous Tour stages, including in 2008, when Fabian Cancellara won the penultimate stage time-trial there.

However, it has also hosted stages on the Paris-Nice on several occasions in the past.

Friday's stage is scheduled to get underway at 1100 GMT.