Geraint Thomas has kept hold of the race leader’s yellow jersey at Paris-Nice after limiting his losses to stage winner Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) on stage five.
As Thomas and Tom Jelte Slagter did 24 hours earlier, Betancur broke clear on the final climb of the day with two companions – Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) – and the trio narrowly held off the rampaging peloton by a matter of two seconds.
The Colombian duly dispatched his European rivals in the sprint to the line, however when the chasing pack was led home by Frenchman Bryan Coquard (Europcar) the time difference was small enough for Thomas to keep hold of yellow.
The Welshman had to do much of the chasing himself, however, as he found himself isolated and lacking teammates in the final 10km.
Betancur moved up to sixth overall on a day when a mechanical and an abandon respectively meant that teammates Samuel Dumoulin and Maxime Bouet dropped out of contention.
Paris-Nice 2014, stage five: Creches-sur-Saone to Rive-de-Gier, 153km
1. Carlos Betancur (Col) Ag2r-La Mondiale
2. Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
4. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar at 2 secs
5. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
6. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Giant-Shimano
7. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Belisol
8. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing
9. Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana
10. Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale all at s.t.
Overall classification after stage five
1. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky at 21-42-51
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 3 secs
3. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin-Sharp at 4 secs
4. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar at 8 secs
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin at 15 secs
6. Carlos Betancur (Col) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 17 secs
7. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quickstep at 19 secs
8. Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar
9. Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ.fr
10. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr all at s.t.
Images from the fifth stage of 2014 Paris-Nice, won by Carlos Betancur
Geraint Thomas (Sky) has moved into the overall lead at Paris-Nice after finishing second on the fourth stage to Dutchman
Anarchic nature of this year's Paris-Nice route means that Sky will have a tough job controlling the race lead