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.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.