Paris-Nice (st. 5)
Gorka Izagirre makes day’s break on Paris-Nice stage five – Betancur (ALM) wins stage to make only significant change overall, with Rojas still in 5th spot
Even more close -if that was possible- it gets in the 2014 edition of Paris-Nice in view of its weekend showdown, as five riders -Thomas (SKY), Degenkolb (GIA), Slagter (GRS), today’s winner Betancur (ALM) and Spaniard José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar Team), 5th- stay within five seconds in the overall standings, with no less than 35 men less than one minute off the yellow jersey’s pace. The control by the leader’s team through almost the entire 153km from Crêches-sur-Saône to Rive-de-Gier avoided Gorka Izagirre’s five-rider break reaching more than three minutes’ advantage, the dangerous attempt including Sylvain Chavanel (IAM).
Gorka took the efforts to chase the final attacks into the escape, yet chose intelligently to drop himself back into the bunch at the final climb of Sainte Catherine (Cat-2) to save energy for the finale. Attacks from Nibali (AST), just over the crest, and Betancur himself with Fuglsang (AST) and Jungels (TFR) caused the latter trio to contest a restricted sprint, two seconds ahead of a bunch which featured the two Izagirres, Gadret and Rojas. Friday will bring the first real test for climbers and puncheurs, with 221km en route to the ‘Mur’ de Fayence (Cat-2) and over the Col de Bourigalle (Cat-1.)