LA MONTAGNE DE LURE, France (AP) — Australian rider Richie Porte counterattacked in the penultimate kilometer to win the fifth stage of the Paris-Nice race on Friday and take the yellow jersey from Andrew Talansky of the United States.
Porte completed the 176-kilometer (110-mile) trek from Chateauneuf-du-Pape to La Montagne de Lure in 4 hours, 50 minutes, 54 seconds. Denis Menchov of Russia finished second, 26 seconds behind Porte, and Talansky came in third.
"It was a really impressive performance, " Sky Procycling director Nicolas Portal told the team's website. "The manner of victory too today makes it even better. Going clear on his own and taking that time out of his rivals was perfect. It was also good because he wasn't just strong in the legs, he was strong tactically. Talansky made a bit of a mistake and Richie knew when to attack."
Talansky accelerated in the final climb with three kilometers to go. But the move backfired as Porte reacted to drop the American, who slipped to second place in the overall standings, 32 seconds off the pace.
Portal was full of praise for Porte, who claimed the Tour of the Algarve last year in Portugal and on Sunday could become the first Australian to win the Paris-Nice. "Every day in this race he has always been in a good position, concentrating and in the right moves," Portal said. "He's been riding confidently and without stress. He's learned a lot over the last year. All eyes were on him and he waited and waited before counterattacking at the perfect time."
Simon Gerrans of Australia did not start because of bronchitis. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke of Britain, Sebastien Hinault of France and Belgian riders Gianni Meersman and Gaetan Bille also withdrew from the weeklong race, which continues on Saturday with a 220-kilometer ride from Manosque to Nice.
German veteran Jens Voigt initially escaped after 14 kilometers and was later joined by Paolo Longo Borghini of Italy, along with Frenchmen Cyril Lemoine and Thierry Hupond. They built a lead that reached six minutes at the halfway stage but were reeled in by the chasing pack led by the Sky team in the ascent of La Montagne de Lure.