Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won stage 3 of Paris-Nice into Lac de Vassiviere, beating a fast finishing Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge) to the line. The stage finished in a bunch sprint meaning Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling) retained the yellow leader’s jersey that he claimed from Gustav Erik Larsson yesterday.
Valverde held his nerve when first Jonathan Hivert (Saur-Sojasun) and then Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) launched their sprints from distance in the finale. The Spaniard bided his time until the final 250 metres, before cruising past Sanchez, seemingly on his way to a comfortable victory.
He was to endure a late scare, however, as Australian champion Simon Gerrans ghosted onto his right shoulder inside the last 50 metres, and both riders lunged for the line simultaneously, with Valverde getting the better of the Australian.
While Valverde’s Movistar team helped pilot him to the line, a lot of the earlier chasing of the day’s breakaway was done by Omega Pharma-QuickStep, who were looking to set something up for their men Sylvain Chavanel and Levi Leipheimer. Their tempo did manage to unseat riders like Taylor Phinney, Thor Hushovd (BMC) and Ivan Basso (Lquigas-Cannondale) but it was Movistar who finished the job for Valverde.
The win brings Valverde to within 20 seconds of Wiggins’ overall lead, but the Briton remains the man to beat. Faultless over the three days of racing to date, Wiggins will himself hope to emulate Miguel Indurain by sealing overall victory at Col d’Eze on Sunday, as the man from Navarra did in 1989 and 1990.
Nothing to worry about for wiggins today:AFP/Getty Images