Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) won the queen stage of Paris-Nice, attacking out of a small group of favourites with about 500 meters to go on the climb to the finish. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) nosed out Bradley Wiggins (Sky) for second place, six seconds later.
An exhausted Wiggins narrowly held on to his leader’s yellow jersey, with Westra moving up to second place, six seconds down.
The stage was marked by a long break comprised of Simon Clarke (GreenEdge), Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil-DCM), Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) and David Le Lay (Saur-Sojasun), who got away about two kilometers into the day. Their gap reached a maximum of 6:50, but three of the escapees were ultimately caught again on the penultimate climb of the day. Veuchelen held out until three kilometers to go, when he was gobbled up on the narrow road of the steep, closing climb in Mende.
Wiggins narrowly held on to his leader’s yellow jersey with three stages remaining: wiggins narrowly held on to his leader’s yellow jersey with three stages remainingGetty Images/Pascal Pavani
Wiggins narrowly holds the leader’s yellow jersey with three stages remaining