Paris-Nice Stage 5: Boonen Top 5, Breakaway Stays Away
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider finished in 5th place at the 153km Stage 5 on Thursday, as three riders held off the peloton despite a mere 10" advantage going into the final kilometer.
Carlos Betancur (AG2R - La Mondiale) won the stage, with Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing) 2nd and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) 3rd. Betancur attacked in the final kilometers after Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) tried to get a gap with 11km to go, and the two riders bridged to him.
OPQS did their best on the front to try and bring the three riders back, but the gap was simply too big.
Zdenek Stybar remains 8th in the GC as he finished with the yellow jersey group. He is 19" back from current race leader Geraint Thomas (Sky ProCycling). Jan Bakelants moved up from 20th to 7th by finishing in the same group. He is 13" back. He made it into the original breakaway, but chose to return to the group when the gap was small and Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) tried to go solo.
"This morning we decided that Jan has to try to get into a breakaway," Sport Director Wilfried Peeters said. "he had to do it either in the final, or an early breakaway with strong riders who could go to the end. We went in the breakaway immediately when Chavanel was there, as he is a good rider who collaborates well with others in a breakaway. Jan took also two times three seconds in the bonifications. That's why he moved up to 7th in the GC. In the end he let Chavanel go because, when the group was at 20 seconds, he preferred to save a bit of energy for the final to help Tom. So, if you consider everything, today was a good performance for Bakelants."
OPQS looks next to a 221.5km Stage 6 on Friday. This could be a chance for a GC shakeup, as there is a Category 2, Category 3, and Category 1 climb between kilometer 164.5 and kilometer 202.5. There is also the Category 2 summit finish in Fayence.
"Tomorrow is another day," Peeters said. "In the next days there will be the fight for the GC. Tomorrow is a long day with a lot of climbs. We will see who will be able to stay in the final. Col de Bourigaille (8.2km, 5.9%) should make the difference in the stage."