Vincenzo Nibali will head into the Alps with his hold on the yellow jersey intact after maintaining his two minutes 23 seconds lead over stage 12 to St Etienne on Friay.
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) held off Peter Sagan (Cannondale) to clinch stage victory in a sprint finish after the peloton hauled back breakaway pair Simon Clarke (Orica Greenedge) and Cyril Gautier (Europcar) with 5km to spare.
Nibali was safely tucked in the peloton along with his nearest challengers Richie Porte (Team Sky) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who retain second and third places respectively in the overall classification.
Kristoff said: “It is a great feeling - I have been dreaming about this since I was a small child and to finally achieve it is nice. There will be champagne tonight but tomorrow is a hard stage so there cannot be too much party.”
Clarke said: “It was really hard out there and we just had to bide our time for most of the day and really wait until the start of the two climbs.
“Sebastian and I were pretty organised to give it everything but unfortunately we needed maybe one minute extra. We gave it everything we had and sometimes you need a bit of luck on your side.”
On Friday the Tour heads into the Alps for the first time this year with the 197.5 stage from St Etienne to Chamrousse, including the 1,154-metres Col de Palaquit.