AFP/Kåre Dehlie Thorstad
Carlos Betancur claimed the 152.5km fifth stage of the Paris-Nice race on Thursday but Geraint Thomas did enough to hang on to the leader’s yellow jersey. Colombian Betancur of the AG2R team was part of a three-man breakaway that opened a gap on the peloton 9km from home. And he proved strongest in the sprint to the line with Bob Jungels of Luxembourg taking second and Dane Jakob Fuglsang third at the end of the stage from Creche-sur-Saone to Rive-de-Gier. But the fast-finishing bunch limited the deficit to just two seconds, meaning Betancur came up five seconds short of snatching yellow from Britain’s Thomas.
At one point the leading trio had a 10-second gap, which would have been enough to propel Betancur into yellow. Betancur moved up to fourth in the overall standings while Fuglsang is now sixth at 13 seconds. German John Degenkolb, the stage three winner, is second at 3 seconds while the stage four winner Tom-Jelte Slagter of the Netherlands is a second further back in third.
Five riders, including Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel, whose overall hopes ended Wednesday when he lost almost a minute, made the main breakaway of the day but they were reeled in with 20km remaining. Giro d’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali was next to try his luck at the end of the final climb but Thomas reacted and chased him down, ensuring he was right on the Astana rider’s wheel when the technical descent – Nibali’s forte – began after the summit.
As Nibali let up, though, Betancur attacked with only Jungels and Fuglsang managing to respond. Friday’s sixth stage is the longest of the race taking the peloton over 221.5km from Saint-Saturnin-les-Avignon to Fayence. With four climbs in the final 60km it promises to be key to the overall positions.
Paris-Nice Stage 5
1. Carlos Betancur (COL/AG2R La Mondiale) 3:38:15
2. Bob Jungels (LUX/TRE) @ s.t.
3. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN/AST) s.t.
4. Bryan Coquard (FRA/EUC) @ :02
5. Tom Boonen (BEL/OPQ) s.t.
6. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA/GIA)
7. Tony Gallopin (FRA/LTB)
8. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/BMC)
9. Borut Bozic (SLO/AST)
10. Marco Marcato (ITA/CAN)
General Classification After Stage 5
1. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) 21:52:42
2. John Degenkolb (GER/GIA) @ :03
3. Tom Slagter (NED/GRM) @ :04
4. Carlos Betancur (COL/ALM) @ :05
5. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP/MOV) @:08
6. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN/AST) @ :13
7. Jan Bakelants (BEL/OPQ) s.t.
8. Wilco Kelderman (NED/BKN) @ :15
9. Zdenek Stybar (CZE/OPQ) @ :19
10. Cyril Gautier (FRA/EUC) s.t.