FAYENCE, France (AP) -- Carlos Betancur outsprinted world champion Rui Costa to win the sixth stage of the Paris-Nice and take the overall lead on Friday in the week-long race.
The Colombian rider finished in 5 hours, 12 minutes, 11 seconds on the 221.5-kilometer trek from Saint-Saturnin-les-Avignon to Fayence.
Betancur, who also won the fifth stage on Thursday, leads Geraint Thomas by eight seconds in the overall standings and Costa by 18 seconds.
''I knew it was going to be long day, with a lot of kilometers, but that the finale suited me,'' Betancur said. ''My AG2R team were very cohesive and this is the result of their great work. It would have been difficult to do better than we did today.''
In the longest stage of the race, Alexis Vuillermoz went on the attack at the Mur de Fayence but was overtaken in the final kilometer.
Vuillermoz, Frank Schleck, Stefan Denifl, Yury Trofimov, Eduardo Sepulveda and Przemyslaw Niemec escaped in the ascent of Col de Bourigaille but were reeled in 14 kilometers from the finish.
Damiano Caruso, Dries Devenyns, Simon Spilak and Vincenzo Nibali then took their chances on the descent but had no success either.
''I think Geraint Thomas remains one of my most dangerous rivals as well as Nibali,'' Betancur said, ''but AG2R are among the best teams to help me in the mountains and to defend the yellow jersey.''
Tour Down Under winner Simon Gerrans did not start while Marko Kump dropped out early in the race.
The pack will travel from Mougins to Biot Sophia Antipolis on Saturday for a 195.5-kilometer ride. The race ends Sunday.