Germany’s Andre Greipel, of Lotto, dominated a bunch sprint to win the sixth stage of the race, held over 176.5 km between Aix-en-Provence and Montpellier, ahead of Slovakian Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and German Marcel Kittel (Argos).
Britain’s Mark Cavendish, who claimed his maiden win of the 100th edition and 24th of his career on Wednesday, finished fourth having crashed with 34 km to race and battled to rejoin the peloton.
Impey, a South African who rides for Orica-GreenEdge, took over the race lead from Australian teammate Simon Gerrans.
“I’m really proud to be the first South African and the first African to wear the yellow jersey,” said Impey, who had been in second place overall since stage four.
Van den Broeck out
Belgian rider Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto), tipped as a candidate to finish on the Tour de France podium, was forced to withdraw from the race before yesterday’s sixth stage.
His team confirmed that Van den Broeck would not take part in the sixth stage after suffering a knee injury when falling in a crash in the final kilometre of Wednesday’s ride into Marseille.