(CNN) -- Jeremy Roy of France emerged the stronger of a three-man breakaway group to win the fifth stage of the Paris-Nice cycle race on Thursday as compatriot Sylvain Chavanel retained the overall lead.
Roy raises his arm in triumph after securing his first win as a professional.
FDJ rider Roy was joined by fellow Frenchman Thomas Voeckler and Tony Martin of Germany as they went away early on the 204 kilometer leg from Annonay to Vallon Pont d'Arc.
Roy took his chance to make a decisive move with seven kilometers remaining but was almost caught by Voeckler after nearly five hours in the saddle with Martin finishing three seconds behind.
Quick Step's Chavanel was content to finish in the main pack with the other leading contenders -- two minutes 33 seconds down.
It enabled him to stay six seconds ahead of second-placed Juan Manuel Garate of Spain, with dangerman Alberto Contador in fourth place, 36 seconds adrift.
Astana's Contador is expected to make his victory bid on Friday's sixth stage which covers 182.5 kilometers with a summit finish at Lure after a 13.8 kilometer climb.
Contador, fresh from his win in the Tour of Algarve, is running into fine form ahead of a pivotal season where he will target the Tour de France with new teammate Lance Armstrong.
The "Race to the Sun", the first major stage race of the European cycling year, finishes in Nice on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Italian star Alessandro Petacchi won the second stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico race over 177 kilometers from Volterra to Marina di Carrara on Thursday.
Sprint ace Petacchi held off Daniele Bennati and Spaniard Koldo Fernandez in a tight finish with Frenchman Julien El Fares retaining the overall lead.