On a day that began with 18 non-starters due to illness running through the peloton, it was all change at the finish of stage 5 of Paris-Nice with a host of names, including overnight race leader Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), dropping out of contention and Primož Roglič taking yellow.
The star of the stage was undoubtedly Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates). The American jumped clear from the day’s early break on the key climb of the Col de la Mure with 38km to go.
He had more than enough fuel in the tank to hold on and take a well-deserved maiden WorldTour win, while the result also catapulted him 66 places up the GC and up to 22nd place overall. A finish in Sunday’s final top-10 is unlikely but after four difficult days in Paris-Nice, the American was back to his best.
The most significant changes in the overall standings occurred at the top with yellow jersey Wout van Aert surprisingly dropped after he cracked on the Col de la Mure. It was unclear as to whether the illness that has swept through the peloton was a factor, or if his crash earlier in the race was beginning to catch up with him, but the Belgian lost over 24 minutes on the stage.
Van Aert’s GC demise, and that too of his teammate’s Christophe Laporte, thrust Primoz Roglič front center into the action. The Slovenian was always the pre-race favorite and he rode like one in a tricky and tactical finale. After his final teammate Rohan Dennis peeled off with 11.4km to go, Daniel Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers) put in a stinging attack to test Roglič’s reserve.
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The Colombian was reeled in soon after, with Roglič deciding that attack was the best form for defense. With two accelerations of his own Roglič stretched his rivals but the terrain was never truly hard enough to cause significant damage. Simon Yates also put in a dig of his own, but a group of main contenders crossed the line 5:43 down on stage winner McNulty.
That result was enough to put Roglič into the lead for the first time in this year’s race. The three-time Vuelta a Espana winner holds a 39-second lead over Simon Yates (Team BikeEchange-Jayco), with Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) a further two seconds in arrears.
Martínez has risen three places to fourth overall, with Alexandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) completing the top-five in the overall standings. Another big mover was Ion Izagirre (Cofidis) who jumped 22 places to tenth overall.
Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) was in the stage-winning break with McNulty but was unable to follow the initial acceleration. The Movistar rider still managed to take a highly creditable third on the stage and that result saw him jump 43 places on GC. Jorgenson now sits 14th overall at 2:25 is within less than 30 seconds of a top-ten finish.