Jérôme Cousin tops breakaway companion Nils Politt to claim his first WorldTour victory in Thursday's fifth stage of Paris-Nice.

Jérôme Cousin claimed his first ever WorldTour victory Thursday in the fifth stage of Paris-Nice. The Direct Energie rider was one of two remaining riders from the day’s early break, rolling into the finale alongside Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin).

Cousin played a risky game of poker in the closing kilometers, sitting in Politt’s wheel and refusing to pull as the chasing pack narrowed the gap on the run-in to Sisteron. The tactics paid off in the end, as Cousin easily came around Politt in the last few hundred meters with the peloton just a few seconds too late to make the catch.

Lotto Soudal’s André Greipel led the pack home behind an exhausted Politt to take third on the day.

Astana’s Luis León Sánchez finished safely in the pack to retain his race lead.

Stage 5, top 10

Top 10 overall

Thursday’s stage took the peloton 165 kilometers from Salon-de-Provence to Sisteron. The pack rolled out from the start without stage 2 winner Dylan Groenewegen, who pulled out of the race with a cold.

The initial break consisted of four riders, with Cofidis’s Nicolas Edet and Delko Marseille Provence KTM’s Julien El Fares getting up the road alongside Politt and Cousin. The quartet worked gap up over four minutes on the lumpy trek through southern France before things stabilized.

The advantage hovered in the range of four minutes for over an hour until the joint work of Quick-Step and Lotto Soudal began to eat into the gap. The escapees took a little over two minutes into the final 20 kilometers, when the action began to heat up.

Politt attacked in advance of the day’s final climb, the third-category Côte de la Marquise. Cousin bridged up to him on the ascent, and the pair took a one-minute gap into the last 10 kilometers.

Despite Politt’s shouting and gesticulations, Cousin mostly let the German do the pulling, even as the pack drew ever closer. The peloton had the pair in its sights as they hit the finishing straight, but the gap was just enough to hold. Cousin came around in the closing meters to take the win two seconds ahead of a heartbroken Politt, with Greipel leading the peloton home a further two seconds back.

“When I got back to the front with Politt on the final climb, I had serious cramps, and I saw that he was really strong on the flat section. So, I decided to do as little as possible,” Cousin said.

“10 days ago, I didn’t know I was going to Paris-Nice. I was the final rider in the selection. The mountains jersey was the objective of the day. The win is the cherry on the cake.”

Stage 5 results

General classification