13 March, 2014
Stage 5, 153km, Crêches-sur-Saône - Rive-de-Gier
BETANCUR Reverses Team's bad luck with a stage win
Carlos Betancur avenged his AG2R team's jinx in Rive-de-Gier to win the 5th stage of Paris-Nice and emerge as one of the leading favorites in the final weekend of the Race to the Sun. The Colombian, crowned the best young rider in the last Giro d'Italia, attacked in the final descent, nine kilometers from the finish, to cross the line ahead of his two break companions, Luxembourg champion Bob Jungels (TFR) and Dane Jakob Fuglsang (AST). Overall, he now trails Geraint Thomas (SKY), who limited the damage in the finale, by five seconds in fourth place, the top three of the GC remaining unchanged on a short but eventful 153-kms ride from the Beaujolais vineyards. .
And Five go Free
The first attempt of the day was again launched by Thomas Voeckler (EUC) along with a Bretagne Seche rider, Florian Guillou (km 12). As the two were reeled in, the break of the day emerged at the initiative of Sylvain Chavanel (IAM), revengeful after losing time on a puncture in stage 4. The Frenchman took with him Jan Bakelants (OPQ), Matthew Busche (TFR), Gorka Izaguirre (MOV) and Brice Feillu (BSE). The peloton let them go, the Team Sky team-mates of race leader Geraint Thomas maintaining a stable gap of two minutes with the break
Chavanel takes polka-dot
Knowing they were under close watch, Chavanel worked to pick points for the mountain classification while Bakelants, the best placed overall (20th, 19 seconds behind Thomas), collected seconds in the intermediate sprint in Brindas (km 87.5) and Rive de Gier (Km126.5) . In the Cote de St Martin-en-Haut, fist stage winner Nacer Bouahnni (FDJ) bid farewell to the race. The polka-dot jersey did not seem consolation enough for Chavanel, who attacked on his own, 20 kilometres from the finish as the main pack, led by Team Sky, was catching his former companions. But he was also run down two kilometers later by Laurent Didier (TFR), who tackled the last ascent of the day on his own.
Betancur goes for glory
In the meantime, team classification leaders AG2R were going through a real nightmare as Romain Bardet and Samuel Dumoulin, 5th overall, were stopped by mechanicals while Maxime Bouet crashed. At the top of the 2nd category Cote de Ste Catherine, Vinenzo Nibali (AST) attacked, followed by the main favourites, Betancur, Geraint Thomas, stage 4 winner Tom-Jelte Slagter (GRS) and Jakob Fuglsang (AST). In the descent, Betancur surged in turn and was quickly joined by Fuglsang and Jungels. In the last nine kilometers, the three managed to keep the peloton at bay and take the stage honours.
The stage is now set for the longest and potentially hardest stage of the week between St Saturnin-les-Avignon and Fayence (221.5 km).