Frenchman Jeremy Roy (FDJeux) who finished last out of the 150 riders on yesterday's stage to St Etienne turned things around in spectacular fashion today to win the 204km stage to Vallon-Pont Arc.
Roy got his reward for a brave ride in which he more or less lead the stage from first to last. He started the decisive break after 16km of today's first stage in the mountains he was joined by fellow Frenchman Thomas Voeckler (BBox Bouygues) and Tony Martin (Columbia). Roy pushed on 7Km from the finish to claim the win, but Martin had his reward too taking the lead in the polka dot jersey competition from Stephan Auge.
Sylvain Chavanel came home in 12th place and his overall lead remains unchanged. In fact it is pretty much 'as you were' for the top 10. All that may change tomorrow though.
148 riders set out from Annonay to Vallon-Pont-d'Arc on the first stage of this year's race to tackle some proper mountains. The first Cat 2 climb came as early as the 16th kilometre and it was here that Roy attacked he was quickly joined by Voeckler and the German rider Tony Martin who was first to the top. Martin then continued to mop up maximum climbing points over the mixture of five more 2nd and 3rd category climbs and then the big one the 1st category Col de Benas 10.7Km of climbing fun at 4.8 per cent.
Looking at Roy's performance yesterday it might be imagined that it was all part of a plan to save something for today, afterwards though he told Letour.com that he'd been “kanckered” (is that a French word?– ed) and that he had nearly dropped out at the early stage of today's break as a result.
However the Frenchman appeared to get stronger as the stage wore on, and the three started to build a good lead which had stretched to almost seven minutes by the time they reached the Col de Benas. Astana and Quickstep kept a watching brief at the front of the peloton and it was left to the sprinters' teams to organise the chase which they duly did on the descent of the Col de Benas. The gap started coming down steadily, but with 20Km to go the sprinters teams realised that they were not going to close it and gave up the chase. That left Sylvain Chavanel's Quick Step team to take the work on in a bid to protect his overall lead.
With 15 kilometres to go the break still had a gap of almost three and a half minutes and it became clear that they were not going to get caught. In the ensuing game of cat and mouse each of the riders tried their luck – Roy initially trying to break for the line as early as the 14th kilometre from the finish. Vockler closed him down on that occasion, but he was too slow to react seven kilometres down the road when Roy attacked again – this time successfully. Martin settled for third place and a spot on the podium as the leader of the climbers competition.
Today's win was the first of Roy's career, he describes himself as “a good little pro” and had split his career so that he could concentrate on taking a masters degree in engineering.
Tomorrow the race tackles a 182.5Km route from Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to a mountain top finish at La Montagne de Lure and its 13.8Km climb at an average of 6.6 per cent. Lovely.
Top 10 Paris Nice Stage 5
1. Jérémy Roy Francaise Des Jeux 4h 58' 47"
2. Thomas Voeckler BBOX Bouygues Telecom 4h 58' 47" + 00' 00"
3. Tony Martin Team Columbia - High Road 4h 58' 50" + 00' 03"
4. Heinrich Haussler Cervelo Test Team 5h 01' 20" + 02' 33"
5. Murilo Antoniobil Fischer Liquigas 5h 01' 20" + 02' 33"
6. Romain Feillu Agritubel 5h 01' 20" + 02' 33"
7. Cyril Lemoine Skil-Shimano 5h 01' 20" + 02' 33"
8. Jürgen Roelandts Silence - Lotto 5h 01' 20" + 02' 33"
9. Mirco Lorenzetto Lampre - N.G.C 5h 01' 20" + 02' 33"
10. Sébastien Hinault AG2R-La Mondiale 5h 01' 20" + 02' 33"
Top 10 Overall after Paris Nice Stage 5
1. Sylvain Chavanel Quick Step 18h 32' 56"
2. Juan Manuel Garate Rabobank 18h 33' 02" + 00' 06"
3. Juan Antonio Flecha Rabobank 18h 33' 32" + 00' 36"
4. Alberto Contador Astana 18h 33' 32" + 00' 36"
5. Kevin Seeldrayers Quick Step 18h 33' 33" + 00' 37"
6. Luis-Leon Sanchez Caisse D’Epargne 18h 33' 41" + 00' 45"
7. David Millar Garmin - Slipstream 18h 33' 46" + 00' 50"
8. Antonio Colom Team Katusha 18h 33' 51" + 00' 55"
9. Vladimir Karpets Team Katusha 18h 33' 53" + 00' 57"
10. VOIGT Jens TEAM SAXO BANK 18h 33' 59" + 01' 03"
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.