Simon Yates won stage seven of Paris-Nice to take the overall lead before Sunday’s final day.
Mitchelton-Scott’s Yates took the stage win by eight seconds from Dylan Teuns of BMC Racing and Bahrain-Merida’s Jon Izaguirre.
British rider Yates leads the general classification by 11 seconds from Jon Izaguirre and by 12 seconds from the latter’s brother and team-mate Gorka Izaguirre.
Yates attacked with four kilometres left of the long climb to Valdeblore-la-Colmiane at the end of a mountainous 175-kilometre stage contested under dull skies around Nice.
Bahrain-Merida’s Jon Izaguirre initially went with Yates but lost touch inside the final 1,500 metres as he crossed the line alone.
Spaniard Luis Leon Sanchez of Astana began the day in yellow but cracked on the long 16-kilometre climb to the finish and had tumbled out of the top 10 overall by the end of the day.
Also caught out as the road ramped up was French hopeful Julian Alaphilippe, who dropped down to ninth place, almost two minutes off yellow.
Eight riders were separated by a minute at the top of the standings by the end of the stage. Lotto-Soudal’s Tim Wellens was 13 seconds down, Teuns 27 seconds off the pace and Movistar’s Marc Soler 37 seconds adrift. Bora-Hansgrohe’s Patrick Konrad will start the final day with a 39-second deficit while Team Sky’s Sergio Henao begins 57 seconds down.
The miserable weather on the so-called ‘Race to the Sun’ took its toll on Saturday, with several riders including Team UAE Emirates’ Dan Martin abandoning the race.
BMC’s Alessandro De Marchi was involved in a frightening crash on a descent – going over the crash barrier and disappearing into a ravine before being helped back up.