Richie Porte of Sky landed the big blow in today's stage to Montagne de Lure, counterattacking a feisty Andrew Talansky of Garmin at 1.2km to go and winning stage 5 of Paris-Nice to seize the yellow jersey.
The favorites mostly held their cards close as the Race to the Snow, I mean Sun played itself out on the only mass-start uphill finish stage, with few big attacks til the final 3km. But it was overnight leader Talansky, in yellow, who opened the festivities, attacking alone at 2.8km, catching Michele Scarponi and leaving many of the favorites briefly in arrears. Talansky kept jabbing the favorites, including a huge attack with 1.5km to go, but Porte covered each time and launched the winning counter with 1.2km left, sweeping up an ambitious Denis Menchov and going straight to the front.
Alone, Porte rode smoothly to the finish and put 33 seconds into his rivals, plus the stage bonus, giving him a cool 32 seconds' lead on general classification over Talansky.
The day's break consisted of Jens Voigt, Thierry Hupond, Paolo Longo Borghini and Cyril Lemoine, nobody within nine minutes of the lead. Voigt launched a solo attack at the start of the day's final climb, the Montagne de Lure, putting on a show for the team buses and dropping hic companions with the peloton still 1.30 behind. Voigt held on til 7 km to go, with Sky (led by Kanstantin Siutsou) setting a tough pace behind, shedding all but the fittest and most determined climbers. Not for nothing, as Porte had the legs and the tactics well in hand. With his time trialling prowess, team support and run of form, the Australian looks poised to take the biggest palmare of his career. Results:
- Richie Porte, Sky
- Denis Menchov, Katusha, at 0.26
- Andrew Talansky, Garmin Sharp, at 0.33
- Tejay van Garderen, BMC, s.t.
- Diego Ulissi, Lampre, s.t.
- Lieuwe Westra, Vacansoleil, s.t.
- J.C. Peraud, Europcar, s.t.
- Nairo Quintana, Movistar, s.t.
- Talanksy, at 0.32
- Westra, at 0.42
- Peraud, at 0.49