The youngest rider in the Paris-Nice race, Peter Sagan, has taken his second stage of the event in Aix-en-Provence.
The Slovakian attacked with just three kilometres to go after the peloton split into two parts, leaving favoured riders including Levi Leipheimer, Thomas Voeckler and Sandy Casar suddenly adrift.
Mirco Lorenzetto (Lampre) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) hammered hard on the heels of the 20-year-old Liquigas rider but couldn't hold him.
Alberto Contador retains the yellow jersey, finishing 10th. The Astana rider's overall advantage stands at 20 seconds from Valverde with two days of racing remaining.
Contador said of Astana's race: “It was a terrible stage. We tried to control the breaks for100 kms but it’s impossible for one team to control a race like Paris-Nice. Sagan is a very strong rider and I’m sure he will very quickly be a rival to watch in future races. Tomorrow is another hard stage with 220 kms. I may be the one in the yellow jersey but I’m not the only one who can do something tomorrow.”
The penultimate stage - a 220-kilometre race between Peynie and Tourrettes-sur-Loup - takes place on Saturday with the finish in Nice on Sunday.
Top 10 Paris Nice Stage 5
1) Peter Sagan (Liquigas) 3:34:15 2) Mirko Lorenzetto (Lampre) :02 3) Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) 4) Mathieu Ladagnous (Française des Jeux) 5) Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) 6) Simon Gerrans (Sky) 7) Koldo Fdez de Larrea (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 8) Nicolas Roche (AG2R) 9) Matthew Goss (HTC-Columbia) 10) .Alberto Contador (Astana) Bank)
Top 10 General classification after stage 5
1) Alberto Contador (Astana) 20:41:39 2) Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) :20 3) Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) a :25 4) Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne) :26 5) Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) :29 6) Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) :34 7) Joaquín Rodríguez (Katusha) :36 8) Peter Sagan (Liquigas) :42 9) David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) 1:02 10) Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) 1:06