Direct Energie‘s Jerome Cousin claimed a cagey victory in stage 5 of Paris-Nice, playing a smart strategic finale with breakaway companion Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin). With the peloton charging behind, Cousin calmly waited until the final 200 metres to make his move, powering to the line well ahead of the German.
The sprint was led home just four seconds later, with André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) taking third.
Race leader Luis Leon Sánchez (Astana) maintained his position on the stage, while Cousin’s day-long efforts in the breakaway also earned him the polka dot jersey for taking the mountains classification lead. Sánchez leads Wout Poels (Team Sky) in the overall by 15 seconds, with Quick-Step Floors’ Julian Alaphilippe and Movistar’s Marc Soler another 11 seconds back.
“I had cramps towards the end,” Cousin said. “The goal was to go for the breakaway and take the KOM jersey. I did not spare my efforts and we had a tacit agreement that if I went for the climbs they would leave me alone on the flat. Now when I saw that the victory was possible I worked hard to go after the Katusha rider and I played with his balls a little. That’s the way I won. I’m so generous in my efforts all year and I was beaten in similar circumstances so many times before that I decided to maneuver differently for once and see if it worked. I didn’t steal this.
“Last year I raced for only 30 days,” Cousin said. “It’s a great comeback. We’ve now won two stages, It’s important for the team, but I must recover because I’m also supposed to be helping Lilian Calmejane make it into the top 10.”
How it Unfolded
You can read more at Cyclingnews.com