Italy's Davide Cimolai beat Bryan Coquard of France in a sprint finish to take the fifth stage of the Paris-Nice.
Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski retains the overall lead ahead of Sky's Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas.
Belgium's Thomas De Gendt broke away well before the end of the 192.5km ride from Saint-Etienne to Rasteau, but was caught 300m from the line.
Cimolai hit the front on the gentle climb to the finish and crossed the line a wheel's length ahead of Coquard.
Saturday's sixth and penultimate stage, which covers 184.5km (114.4 miles) from Vence to Nice is the big mountain stage of the week-long race and features three Category 1 climbs.
It gives climbing specialist Porte, the 2013 Paris-Nice champion and who is one second behind world champion Kwiatkowski, an ideal opportunity to take the overall lead while Thomas, who is in third, three seconds behind the Pole is also in a strong position.
Stage five result
1. Davide Cimolai (Ita/Lampre) 4 hrs 12 mins 09 secs
2. Bryan Coquard (Fra/Europcar) Same time
3. Michael Matthews (Aus/Orica) Same time
4. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra/Cofidis) Same time
5. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Sp/Movistar) Same time
6. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/Katusha) Same time
7. Matti Breschel (Den/Tinkoff-Saxo) Same time
8. Daniel Mclay (GB/Bretagne) Same time
9. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra/AG2R) Same time
10. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra/IAM) Same time
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol/Etixx-Quick-Step) 23hrs 56mins 20secs
2. Richie Porte (Aus/Team Sky) +1secs
3. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +3secs
4. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC Racing) +27secs
5. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana) +32secs
6. Tony Gallopin (Fra/Lotto) +38secs
7. Rui Costa (Por/Lampre) +41secs
8. Gorka Izagirre (Sp/Movistar) +44secs
9. Tiago Machado (Por/Katusha) +50secs
10. Rafael Valls (Sp/Lampre) +51secs