Belleville - Dutchman Tom-Jelte Slagter has won a sprint finish to take victory in the fourth stage of Paris-Nice on Wednesday but breakaway companion Geraint Thomas is the new overall leader.Garmin's Slagter edged out Briton Thomas in a sprint finish at the end of the 201.5km stage from Nevers to Belleville, with Dutchman Wilco Kelderman coming home third five seconds later.
Sky's Thomas now leads the overall standings by three seconds from previous leader John Degenkolb of Giant-Shimano.
The day began with a four-man breakaway comprised of Italy's Valerio Agnoli, Spaniard Jesus Herrada, Luxembourg's Laurent Didier and Frenchman Perrig Quemeneur, but they were caught with 18km left.
Soon after, former Tour Down Under winner Slagter made his move on the tough Mont Brouilly with Thomas eventually joining him on the technical, winding descent just after the summit.
The pair held off a 30-strong chase group all the way to the finish while German Degenkolb dropped into the second chase group.
That proved crucial as he came home around 20sec behind and lost his grip on the leader's jersey.
Thursday's fifth stage is a hilly 153km from Creches-sur-Saone to Rive-de-Gier.
Results and standings from the fourth stage of the Paris-Nice race over 201.5km from Nevers to Belleville on Wednesday:
1. Tom-Jelte Slagter (NED/Garmin), 5hr 00min 09sec, 2. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) same time, 3. Wilco Kelderman (NED/BKN) at 5sec, 4. Michael Matthews (AUS/ORI) s.t., 5. Zdenek Stybar (CZE/OPQ) s.t., 6. Arthur Vichot (FRA/FDJ) s.t., 7. Peter Velits (SVK/BMC) s.t., 8. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP/MOV) s.t., 9. Cyril Gautier (FRA/EUC) s.t., 10. Samuel Dumoulin (FRA/ALM) s.t.
11. Rui Costa (POR/LAM) s.t., 26. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) s.t., 31. John Degenkolb (GER/GIA) 18, 101. Tom Boonen (BEL/OPQ) 4:15, 120. Andy Schleck (LUX/TRE) 7:06
1. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) 18hr 14min 25sec, 2. John Degenkolb (GER/GIA) 3, 3. Tom-Jelte Slagter (NED/GRM) 4, 4. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP/MOV) 8, 5. Samuel Dumoulin (FRA/ALM) 12, 6. Wilco Kelderman (NED/BKN) 15, 7. Carlos Betancur (COL/ALM) 17, 8. Zdenek Stybar (CZE/OPQ) 19, 9. Cyril Gautier (FRA/EUC) s.t., 10. Arnold Jeannesson (FRA/FDJ) s.t.
12. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) s.t., 14. Rui Costa (POR/LAM) s.t., 77. Tom Boonen (BEL/OPQ) 4:29, 152. Andy Schleck (LUX/TRE) 15:49