FAYENCE, France (AP) — Simon Yates peeled away on the final climb of the day to win the sixth stage of the Paris-Nice, while Julian Alaphilippe retained the lead on Friday.
Yates moved into overall contention, but the British rider remains 1 minute, 37 seconds behind Alaphilippe with two climbing stages remaining.
The 193.5-kilometer (112-mile) trek from Aubagne to Fayence featured three category 1 climbs, the second toughest under race classification.
At least riders did not have bad weather to contend with, and Yates thumped his chest as he crossed the line with the sun shining in southern France.
He cleared the day's three steepest climbs by the time he got to the short but sharp climb up to Fayence, and had enough of a lead to cross the line comfortably ahead. The Orica-Scott team rider clocked a winning time of 4 1/2 hours.
The chasing riders left it too late, with two-time champion Richie Porte of Australia (BMC Racing) and then Sergio Henao of Colombia (Team SKY) launching strong attacks up Fayence but running out of time to catch Yates.
Those two were both injured in a crash-marred road race at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, with Henao breaking his pelvis and Porte breaking his shoulder blade.
Henao crossed the line 17 seconds behind Yates, while Porte was 26 seconds behind in fourth. Alaphilippe was :29 back in fourth, while two-time champion Alberto Contador of Spain was :32 behind in eighth spot.
In the overall standings, Alaphilippe is 36 seconds ahead of French countryman Tony Gallopin and 46 ahead of Henao.
Contador is lurking 1:34 back in seventh overall and will likely attack on Saturday's seventh stage.
The 177-kilometer (110-mile) route starts from Nice and finishes with an ascent up Col de la Couillole, the third and final of the day's three category 1 climbs.
There will be two more category 1 climbs on Sunday's final stage, which ends with a downhill finish to Nice.