Paris-Nice Stage 5: Carlos Betancur attacks to win, Geraint Thomas keeps lead
AG2R's Colombian rider stays ahead of chasing pack, but not enough to get into yellow jersey
Carlos Betancur of AG2R La Mondiale has won stage 5 of Paris-Nice in Rive-de-Gier from Trek Factory Racing's Bob Jungels, with Jakob Fuglsang of Astana third. Geraint Thomas of Team Sky was in a bunch that crossed the line just 2 seconds behind the trio in front, and keeps the race lead.
Betancur, who moves to fourth on GC had attacked coming off the day's final climb, the Category 2 Côte de Sainte-Catherine, with around 10km left. Jungels and Fuglsang following him, and as they entered the final kilometre with a lead of around 10 seconds and time bonuses at the finish, the race lead was up for grabs.
Fuglsang's leader at Astana, Vincenzo Nibali, had tried to slow down the pace of the pursuers at the front of that chasing group.
But with overnight leader Thomas present, as well as points jersey leader John Degenkolb of Giant-Shimano, who had an opportunity of getting back into the lead if he picked up time bonuses, the group was closing quickly as the line approached.
With three days' racing left as the race heads down to Provence, just 19 seconds separate the top 10 riders on the general classification, which could see a shake-up tomorrow with a punchy finish at Fayence and three other categorised climbs on the stage.
Some 17km into the thrilling finale of today's 153km stage from Crêches-sur-Saône, a five man breakaway group had got away, and it was a dangerous one, comprising Sylvain Chavanel of IAM, Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Jan Bakelants, Trek Factory Racing's Matthew Busche, Movistar's Jon Izaguirre and Brice Feillu of Bretagne Séché Environnement.
They were never given too much rope however, and despite a aolo attack from Chavanel 25km left he was brought back ahead of the final climb and the explosive finale.
Betancur's win provided a fillip for AG2R on a day on which the French team lost two riders - Maxime Bouet, who abandoned following a chute, and Romain Bardet, who also crashed. Among other riders abandoning the race today was FDJ.fr's Nacer Bouhanni, winner of the opening stage.