A day for the breakaway at Paris-Nice
Julian Alaphilippe rests in third place with three stages left at the "Course au Soleil".
Paris-Nice continued on Thursday with an intriguing 163.5km stage between Salon-de-Provence to Sisteron, which included four classified climbs: Col du Pointu, Col de Lagarde-d'Apt, Col du Negron and Côte de la Marquise. Soon after the start, four riders got away and by the bottom of the first climb they already had more than five minutes on the peloton, who didn't look too worried about that move.
On Col de Lagarde-d'Apt, the day's second hurdle, the advantage of the escapees was reduced to just three minutes, but surprisingly, on the descent the bunch stopped pushing and allowed them to increase the gap again. Things took an unwanted turn for the pack with 30 kilometers to go, when they found themselves four minutes behind the quartet. The kilometers ticked down rapidly in the favour of the breakaway, who despite not working together anymore, still enjoyed a comfortable advantage.
Côte de la Marquise saw attacks coming from the front group, Jerome Cousin (Direct Energie) and Nils Politt ((Katusha-Alpecin) distancing their opponents and holding the chasers at bay, thus fighting for the win in Sisteron, where the Frenchman prevailed.
Escorted by his teammates – prominent at the front during the stage – Julian Alaphilippe safely crossed the finish line in Sisteron and kept his third place in the general classification, where only 26 seconds separate him from the yellow jersey, which he got to sport for two days at the previous edition. The 25-year-old Frenchman, who impressed in Wednesday's individual time trial to Saint-Étienne, will now look to stage 6, which has fives classified climbs on the menu.
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