Despite the loss of two riders in the top three of the general classification, Jumbo-Visma remains in control of Paris-Nice as Primož Roglič puts on the yellow jersey at the end of the fifth stage.
Both Wout van Aert and Christophe Laporte were dropped on the Col de la Mûre, the last categorized climb of the day, and Roglič looked reasonably isolated. However, he hung on to maintain his 39-second advantage over Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco), his closest challenger.
With further climbing tests to come, the race is yet to be decided, but Roglič’s exploits in the first half of the race ensure he is the one in control as the riders head further south .
Speaking after the stage, the Slovenian said Thursday was another “difficult day”, but he was picking up the pace.
“Today was another hard day, like every day at Paris-Nice,” he said. “And there are more big mountains ahead of us. It’s a tough race but the guys did a great job all day and I was able to stick with the better climbers at the end.
“I don’t know how it’s going to be tomorrow, and then there are two difficult days this weekend, especially the last one I had last year. There are a lot of races to come and I will do my best. I take my rhythm and I’m positive.”
Last year Roglič led on stage four but finished 15th overall after crashing on the final day of the race. He hopes for better fortune in the final days of this year’s edition.
For that, he might need to have more help from his teammates. While Rohan Dennis lasted until stage five, showing the domestic form he showed at the Giro d’Italia two years ago, others like Steven Kruijswijk, Nathan Van Hooydonck and Van Aert did not. could keep up.
Arkéa-Samsic were the ones to push hard at first, in an attempt to set up Nairo Quintana, and Ineos Grenadiers also sent Dani Martínez on the road late in an attempt to shake things up.
There are four runners within a minute of Roglič: Simon Yates, Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), Martinez and Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe), with Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) at 1-11.
The highest elevations of the week are yet to come, so we may see more GC action in the coming days.
Van Aert said it was Arkéa’s acceleration that ended his day, but said his easy ride today could allow him to help Roglič more in the stages ahead.
“It was definitely a tough day,” he said. “We had trouble with the team controlling a strong breakaway. And then Arkéa accelerated on the final climb, I felt it in my legs and the head made the decision to take it a little more easily to ‘on arrival. It can be an advantage, so I can help Primož [Roglič] over the weekend, and I have the Classics on my mind.”
The Belgian’s mind is very much on the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, both of which are a few more weeks away. 98th place on stage five, however, was the first time he had finished a road race outside the top three in 2022.