Greipel charges to Paris-Nice stage five win

Germany's Andre Greipel celebrates after winning the fifth stage of the 75th edition of the Paris-Nice cycling race, on March 9, 2017

Germany's Andre Greipel powered past his sprint rivals to win Thursday's fifth stage of the Paris-Nice race ahead of Frenchman Arnaud Demare.

French Quick-Step rider Julian Alaphilippe retained the leader's yellow jersey, a day after securing a dominant time-trial victory at Mont Brouilly, near Lyon.

After the threat of an initial six-man breakaway group subsided, Greipel patiently waited in the shadows of Demare before bursting clear in the final sprint at the end of the 199.5km route from Quincie-en-Beaujolais to Bourg-de-Peage.

The 34-year-old made the most of a final opportunity for the sprinters in this year's 'Race to the Sun', with a series of climbs awaiting the peloton on each of the concluding three stages.

"In this Paris-Nice, the goal was to win a stage and that's done. I was very disappointed Tuesday after my sprint. I was furious with myself," said Greipel, reflecting on the third stage that was surprisingly won by Ireland's Sam Bennett.

"I waited for as long as possible," added the German, who finished ahead of Demare and Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen to register his first win at World Tour level this year.

Alaphilippe kept hold of his 33-second lead over compatriot Tony Gallopin in the general classification but warned of the challenges that could lie ahead going into the weekend.

"Another race starts now. Each of the three stages are going to bring surprises. Tomorrow (Friday) it could be a breakaway, like a fireworks display," said Alaphilippe.

"If I have to attack to defend my yellow yersey, I'll do it."

Friday's sixth stage will take the riders 193.5km from Aubagne to Fayence and features five ascents before the final short, but sharp summit finish climb.