Porte Takes Lead in Paris-Nice
Richie Porte (Sky) leads Paris-Nice. The Australian surged away from the lead group on the day's final climb to win the rugged, 176-km ride from Chateauneuf-du-Pape to La Montagne de Lure in 4:50:54.
Denis Menchov (Katusha) finshed second at 0:26, and Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) outsprinted Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) for third at 0:33.
At 14 km, Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Leopard) attacked, and Cyril Lemoine (Sojasun), Thierry Hupond (Argos-Shimano), and Paolo Longo Borghini (Cannondale) joined him. The quartet led the field by 4:30 at 30 km, 6:00 at the summit of the Category 2 Col de Murs (47 km), and 6:35 at the top of the Col d'Oppedette (85 km). Behind, Garmin-Sharp rode tempo for race leader Talansky.
Eventually, Sky and GreenEdge took over at the front. Their pacemaking narrowed the gap between bunch and break. At the foot of the day's last climb, the escapees led the peloton by 1:25.
Voigt attacked and dropped his companions. Behind, Sky drove the peloton. Davide Malacarne (Europcar) attacked, but Sky reeled him in and caught Voigt with seven km left.
Robert Gesink (Blanco), Christophe Le Mevel (Cofidis), and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) tried escapes, but none could stay away.
With three km left, Talansky made the first of three attacks. He set out in pursuit of Scarponi and overtook the Italian. Porte led the rest of the lead group up to the American.
One km later, Nicholas Roche (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) attacked. Talansky reeled him in. Menchov attacked, and Talansky could not bridge the gap. Porte could and kept going.
Attack after attack came from the chase group, and Talansky had to ride them all down. He would lead the chase group home, but the yellow jersey was riding up the road.
Sky had planned to dominate on the final climb, and the British squad's plan worked to perfection. "It all played into our hands in the finale," Porte said, "especially having [David] Lopez there as my wingman. He was so cool, calm, and collected, which was really helpful. So credit to him and the whole team today."
In the overall, Porte leads Talansky by 0:32 and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) by 0:42. Stage 6 is unlikely to change this state of affairs. The rugged, 220-km ride from Manosque to Nice will feature five categorized climbs, including two Category 1 ascents. However, the stage's last climb will be 70 km from the finish, which will keep it from having an impact on the general classification. This stage could be one that a breakaway member wins. Who will it be? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!