Paris-Nice Stage 6: Carlos Betancur wins again and takes race lead
AG2R man makes move on final climb, Team Sky's Geraint Thomas slips to 2nd overall
Carlos Betancur of AG2R-La Mondiale attacked on the final climb of the 2014 edition of Paris-Nice in Fayence this afternoon to win his second successive stage and with it take over the race lead from Team Sky's Geraint Thomas, who finished fourth.
Betancur, who minutes beforehand had seemed to be struggling, launched his attack as a select front group hit the only climb figuring in a stage finish in the Race to the Sun this year, the relatively short but punchy Mur de Fayence.
Only world champion Rui Costa of Lampre Merida was able to get ahead of the Colombian, doing so towards the top of the climb that concluded the 221.5km stage from Saint-Saturnin-lès-Avignon.
Betancur countered, however, and got back in front of the man in the rainbow jersey ahead of the line to take the stage, with Zdenek Stybar of Omega Pharma-Quick Step third.
Thomas seemed to be in difficulties in the latter part of the ascent but came back strongly to finish fourth, frustratingly for him, outside the time bonuses.
On a warm spring day in Provence, ten riders formed the break including BMC Racing's British rider, Steve Cummings, but the escapees were afforded little leeway by the peloton, their lead never reaching 3 minutes.
They were subsequently joined by two of the biggest names in French cycling, Sylvain Chavanel of IAM Cycling and Europcar's Thomas Voeckler.
Chavanel was the final man brought back with around 25km remaining ahead of the day's final climb, the Category 1 Col de Bourigaille, which helped shred the front group to around 30 or so riders.
A number of riders attacked from there until the foot of the final climb, but it was Betancur's that would prove decisive not only for the stage win but also for the race leadership.