Jérôme Cousin of Direct Energie won the fifth stage of Paris-Nice 2018 between Salon-de-Provence and Sisteron (163.5 kilometres). Although Frenchman spent the day in the breakaway, he managed to keep his powder dry and win in the sprint against Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin). Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) maintains his lead in the general classification.
It was a nervous opening to Stage 5 of Paris-Nice. Several attacks were launched from the word go. Despite a healthy acceleration from the peloton, a group of four riders managed to escape their grasp. Jérôme Cousin (Direct Energie), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Julien El Fares (Marseille Delko), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) broke away to create a significant gap in very little time at all. The gap was holding steady at 3’30 when the quartet arrived at the foot of the first challenge of the day, the Pointu pass. As the peloton tackled the climb, Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fortuneo-Samsic) accelerated off the front to snatch the remaining point available at the summit.
The gap hit it’s maximum at 4’40, and the pace was controlled throughout the day by a combination of Groupama-FDJ and Team Sky. The pace on the front left several casualties as the bunch hit the second climb of the day the 1st category Col de Lagarde d’Apt. The tempo was too much for the likes of Daniel McLay (EF Education First-Drapac) and Edward Theuns (Team Sunweb). Arnaud Démare(Groupama-FDJ) was also seen struggling off the back at one point.
Sisteron was in sight when the bunch put their foot on the accelerator. The gap narrowed somewhat but the quartet was insistent on maintaining their lead. Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) decided it was his day at 15 kilometers from the finish, where he launched a solo attack although Jérôme Cousin (Direct Energie) took his wheel immediately. The duo worked together took take one minute on the chasers. Nerves got the better of Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) who launched another attack just prior to the flamme rouge but Jérôme Cousin found his wheel once again. When the sprint came, it was Cousin who imposed his will on the German- who had clearly burnt too many matches in his solo attempts. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) maintained his overall lead in the general classification.