Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) won stage 3 at Paris-Nice on Wednesday and now leads the GC standings.
Talansky was part of a seven-man breakaway that formed after a Cat. 2 climb late in the 171-kilometer stage from Châtel-Guyon to Brioude. He out-sprinted his companions at the finish line to slip into the yellow jersey.
Finishing second was Davide Malacarne (Europcar), while Gorka Izaguirre (Euskaltel) took third.
Talansky is three seconds ahead of Andriy Grivko (Astana) in the GC standings, while Malacarne is third, at the same gap.
“Grivko attacked on the final downhill to get up to the leading group of riders, and rode strongly in terrible conditions,” said Astana director Dmitriy Fofonov. “He said in the meeting this morning that he felt up to the challenge, and once the hills began, and the final 2.5km climb started, he benefited from an attack on the climb by Maxim Iglinskiy that broke the chase apart and let him get away.”
Elia Viviani (Cannondale), who led the race entering stage 3, plummeted to 59th and now sits 2:48 behind Talansky.
“With 500m to go, I started thinking, ‘how can I win this thing?’” said Talansky, whose team ran into some bad luck when thieves stole all of its bikes at the Tour Méditerranéen last month. “It means a lot. The team came here riding for me. To win and to take the jersey pays them back for all their hard work. It’s the biggest win of my career. Last year, I won Tour de l’Ain, but this is Paris-Nice. This is much bigger.”
Wet and rainy conditions slowed down the peloton and forced the riders to be extra cautious throughout the day. Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) skidded out and crashed hard on the side of the road during a descent after summiting the late climb.
A four-man breakaway was caught by the peloton 23km left in the stage. Then the peloton split during the climb, and eventually seven riders jumped ahead of the main field.
Talansky, who also leads the best young rider classification, said he and his teammates will fight to keep the race lead until Sunday’s final stage.
“Now that we have the jersey, we’ll fight to keep it all the way to Col d’Eze,” he said. “I am really confident about the Col d’Eze time trial. If I can have the yellow jersey on Sunday in Nice, that’s all that matters.”
The race resumes Thursday with a 200km stage from Brioude to Saint-Vallier that features seven categorized climbs.