Betancur Wins Stage 5 of Paris-Nice
Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) has won Stage 5 of this year's Paris-Nice. The Colombian took a three-up sprint at the end of a nine-km break to win the hilly, 153-km ride from Creches-sur-Saone to Rive-de-Gier in 3:38:15. Bob Jungels (Trek) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) took second and third, respectively, 0:02 ahead of a large chase group. Geraint Thomas (Sky) remains the yellow jersey.
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Florian Guillou (Bretagne-Seche Environnement) started today’s hostilities. The pair jumped clear of the peloton at 12 km, and when they were reeled in, Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling), Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Gorka Izaguirre (Movistar), Brice Feillu (Bretagne-Seche Environnement), and Matthew Busche (Trek) escaped. At the beginning of the day, Bakelants was 0:19 from the yellow jersey, and Chavanel was 1:10 from the golden fleece. Sky took no chances, and rode tempo to peg the escapees’ advantage at two minutes.
On the Category 3 Cote de Saint Martin en Haut, Europcar and FDJ.fr joined the Sky team at the front. At the summit, the break’s lead on the yellow jersey group was 1:00. On the descent, the bunch further reduced the lead to 0:30.
With 25.8 km left, Cofidis took over at the front. With 24 km to go, Chavanel attacked his companions. They brought him back, but a second attempt succeeded. Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) attacked from the peloton, but the bunch reeled him in and absorbed all of the breakaways except Chavanel. Twenty-one km remained.
On the Category 2 Cote de Sainte-Catherine, the day’s last climb, Laurent Didier (Trek) attacked from the peloton and caught and dropped Chavanel. Didier never got more than 0:10 on the bunch, which reeled him in with 14.2 km to go.
Stefan Denifl (IAM Cycling) countered, and a flurry of attacks followed. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Betancur attacked to get clear, but Thomas followed. Nibali tried again on the descent, but the Italian could not shake the Welshman.
With 9.1 km remaining, Betancur attacked, and Jungels and Fuglsang joined him. The trio hammered out a small gap that the pursuit could not close. With 3.5 km left, the escape led the field by 0:10. Omega Pharma-Quick Step led the field, which closed on the break, but not quickly enough. Jungels started the sprint, but Betancur pushed past him for the win.
Before the stage, Betancur saw it as one that he could win. “I carefully studied the roadbook and I saw that the end of this course could follow [suit] me well,” the Colombian said. "I followed Nibali in the last climb and I had spotted in the first lap that there was a difficult part 8 km from the finish, just after a flat portion. This is where I decided to attack and I was followed by Jungels and Fuglsang. We worked well together, and I did my best to keep a few seconds ahead of the bunch. This is a great victory for me and for the whole team AG2R La Mondiale in a World Tour race. There are still three stages and, obviously, I keep a watchful eye on the overall standings!"
In the overall, Thomas leads John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) by 0:03 and Tom Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp) by 0:04. Stage 6 will be a rugged, 221-km ride from Saint-Saturnin-les-Avignon to Fayence that will include five categorized climbs, including a Category 1 and a Category 2 ascent in the last 20 km. This stage will shake up the standings. Who will win? Will Thomas keep the yellow jersey? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!