Sisteron (France) (AFP) - France's Jerome Cousin clinched just his second career stage win on Thursday when he triumphed on the fifth stage of the Paris-Nice, a 165km run to Sisteron.
Cousin, 28, riding for the Direct Energie team, had only once before tasted success in his professional career, winning a stage on the Etoile de Besseges in 2013.
His win on Thursday was also his team's second of the week after Jonathan Hivert's Tuesday victory at Chatel-Guyon.
Cousin timed his final dash to perfection, pulling away from breakaway partner Nils Politt of the Katusha-Alpecin team over the last 200 metres.
"I knew that I had the legs to win this stage," said Cousin. "But I had big cramps on the last climb and I saw that he was strong on the flat.
"Ten days ago, I didn't even know that I was going to take part in the Paris-Nice. I was the last man in the team.
"I have the polka dot jersey (for best climber), that was the goal of the day. Victory on the stage is the icing on the cake."
Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez of Astana keeps the overall leader's jersey ahead of Friday's 198km run to Vence which includes five climbs.
Stage five results:
1. Jerome Cousin (FRA/Direct Energie), 165 km in 3 hrs 57:25, 2. Nils Politt (GER/KAT) at 02, 3. Andre Greipel (GER/LOT) 04, 4. Magnus Cort Nielsen (DEN/AST) 04, 5. Alexander Kristoff (NOR/EAU) 04, 6. Christophe Laporte (FRA/COF) 04, 7. Matteo Trentin (ITA/MIT) 04, 8. Mike Teunissen (NED/SUN) 04, 9. Matti Breschel (DEN/EFD) 04, 10. Koen De Kort (NED/TRE) 04.