Spainâ€™s Carlos Barrredo fought from start to finish to give his Quick Step team their third victory on this Paris-Nice in the 5th stage in Sisteron.
The Spaniard, the most active rider in a long break of 16 riders, broke on his own in the finale to grab the stage laurels he amply deserved and make a spectacular progression in the overall standings.
Barredo is now sixth, one minute and 40 seconds behind Dutchman Robert Gesink, who retained his overall leaderâ€™s yellow jersey with the precious help of his Rabobank team-mates.
It was the third career-victory for Barredo, who won with a four-second lead over Dutchman Karsten Kroon and Italyâ€™s Manuele Mori.
Althen-des-Paluds â€“ Sisteron (172.5 kms)
Intermediate sprints :
Km 50 â€“ St Saturnin-les-Apt
Km 154 - Sisteron
Km 30.5 â€“ Col de Murs (2nd cat)
Km 64 â€“ Col de Javon (3rd cat)
Km 79 â€“ Cote de Sault (3rd cat)
Km 160 â€“ Cote des Marquises (3rd cat)
FRENCH FOUR ON THE MOVE
The start was given at 12:24 to 146 riders. David Millar (Slipstream), William Bonnet (C.A) and Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas) did not start. The Ventoux left traces as Bradley McGee (CSC) called it quits after 15 kms. Seven other abandons followed.
On the second category Col de Murs (km 30.5), Clement Lhotellerie strengthened his polka-dot jersey and the first serious break involved four prominent Frenchmen, Christophe Moreau (Agritubel), Jerome Pineau (Bouygues Telecom), Remi Pauriol (C.A.) and Sandy Casar (FDJ). As Casar lost contact, his leader Philippe Gilbert replaced him in the break.
After the sprint in St Satunin les Apt (km 54), a group of 20 riders, led by Australiaâ€™s Cadel Evans, joined the four escapees. The group included, along with the Ventoux stage winner, Karsten Kroon (CSC) and Carlos Barredo (Quick Step).
17 IN THE LEAD
After two 3rd category climbs, the Col de Javon and Cote de Sault, while Evans, Gilbert and Pineau gave up the fight, the leading bunch was reduced to the 17 following riders: David Arroyo and Mathieu Perget (GCE), Kroon, Ivan Santaromita (Liquigas) Alexandre Botcharov, Simon Gerrans, Pierre Rolland (all Credit Agricole), Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ), Manuele Mori, Aurelien Passeron (both Saunier Duval), Stef Clement (Bouygues Telecom), Maxime Monfort (Cofidis), Jose Luis Arrieta (AG2R), Barredo (Quick Step), Christophe Moreau, Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez, Geoffroy Lequatre (all Agritubel).
Their lead increased slightly to reach three minutes after 140 kms, while the group lost Clement, who crashed (km 125). Barredo, 12th at the starft, 4:07 behind Robert Gesink, was by far the most active rider in the break.
BARREDO THE STRONGEST
The Spaniard was joined by Moreau, Mori, Kroon and Rolland when he attacked shortly before the final climb, the Cote des Marquises (3rd cat, km 160)., which the French champion reached in the lead, ahead of Barredo.
Two strikes by the Spaniard shattered his four companions and Barredo sped on his own towards the stage victory he amply deserved. Kroon was second and Mori third, four seconds behind.
Robert Gesink retained his overall leaderâ€™s yellow jersey while Barredo moved to 6th in the GC.
Carlos Barredo: "First of all I worked hard to improve my position in the overall standings but towards the finish I realised I was probably the strongest of the break and I also went for the stage victory.
First Steegmans and now me, and on top of it we have three guys in the overall top 10, itâ€™s great for the team. I could not be any happier.
In the next couple of days, we will see. Iâ€™ve worked very hard since the start of the race and might be a little bit tired. Iâ€™ll just try to keep with the best and see what happens."
Robert Gesink (Netherlands, Rabobank) retains the overall leader’s yellow jersey.
Top five placings in the 172.5-kms 5th stage between Althen des Paluds and Sisteron:
1. Carlos Barredo (Spain, Quick Step)
2. Karsten Kroon (Netherlands, CSC)
3. Manuele Mori (Italy, Saunier Duval)
4. Christophe Moreau (France, Agritubel)
5. Pierre Rolland (France, Credit Agricole)
Spain’s Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) wins the 5th stage in Sisteron.
Barredo still leads by 15 seconds with two kilometres to go.
Barredo leads his former companions by 15 seconds with 3 kms left before the line.
Every morning before the start, Bernard Hinault gives his views about the issues at stake and the riders to watch on the dayâ€™s stage :
Â« Yesterday, we discovered a young promising rider. Gesink really climbs very well indeed. He showed real potential. As for Cadel Evans, he was his usual self â€“ he did not attack. Mind you his role was to protect Popovych. Iâ€™m not sure Gesink has definitely won the yellow jersey in the Ventoux. Rebellin was slightly stuck in the climb but he is only 32 seconds behind, which is not much. If I were him, I would study the road-book closely and find the right place to make or break. Itâ€™s his only chance because the Rabobank are really strong. You cannot rule out Nocentini and Popovych. There are still three stages and a rather long road ahead. Â»