Valverde wins third stage

2012-03-06 17:48

Lac de Vassiviere, France - Spain's Alejandro Valverde on Tuesday won the 194km third stage of the Paris-Nice race but Britain's Bradley Wiggins kept the leader's yellow jersey.

Valverde, 31, and who is fresh from winning the Tour of Andalusia, edged out Australia's Simon Gerrans and Gianni Meersman from Belgium in a final sprint after a day's racing in bracing temperatures.

The Movistar rider's Spanish compatriot Luis Leon Sanchez took fourth place ahead of Xavier Florencio.

A three-man break-away comprising Denmark's Michael Morkov, Dutch rider Roy Curvers and France's Jimmy Engoulvent opened up the race from the first kilometre.

The trio led the chasing pack by nearly five minutes and were only caught in the final stages, with Engoulvent holding out until six kilometres from the finish.

Uzbekistan's Sergey Lagutin then attacked with four kilometres to go but was caught in sight of the final kilometre marker, as Valverde's team controlled the pursuit.

Valverde, back in the peloton after serving a two year doping ban, clawed back 10 seconds on Wiggins through bonus points and is now 20 seconds behind the Briton in the overall classification.

Luxembourg's Andy Schleck was forced to abandon the race on Tuesday morning after a bout of acute gastro-enteritis, his Radioshack team announced.

On Wednesday, the fourth stage takes the riders on a 178km route from Brive-la-Gaillarde to Rodez.

Results of the 194km third stage of the Paris-Nice race from Vierzon to Lac de Vassiviere on Tuesday:

1. Alejandro Valverde, Spain, Movistar, 4 hours, 36 minutes, 19 seconds.
2. Simon Gerrans, Australia, Greenedge, same time.
3. Gianni Meersman, Belgium, Lotto-Belisol, same time.
4. Luis Leon Sanchez, Spain, Rabobank, same time.
5. Xavier Florencio, Spain, Katusha, same time.
6. Eros Capecchi, Italy, Liquigas-Cannondale, same time.
7. Maxime Monfort, Belgium, Radioshack-Nissan, same time.
8. Jonathan Hivert, France, Saur-Sojasun, same time.
9. Francesco Gavazzi, Italy, Astana, same time.
10. Lieuwe Westra, Netherlands, Vacansoleil-DCM, same time.

Overall Standings:

1. Bradley Wiggins, Britain, Sky Procycling, 9 hours, 9 minutes, 51 seconds.
2. Levi Leipheimer, United States, Omega Pharma-Quickstep, 6 seconds behind.
3. Tejay Van Garderen, United States, BMC Racing, :11.
4. Sylvain Chavanel, France, Omega Pharma-Quickstep, :14.
5. Maxime Monfort, Belgium, Radioshack-Nissan, :18.
6. Alejandro Valverde, Spain, Movistar, :20.
7. Lieuwe Westra, Netherlands, Vacansoleil-DCM, :22.
8. Jose Joaquin Rojas, Spain, Movistar, : 29.
9. Simon Spilak, Slovenia, Katusha, :33.
10. Robert Kiserlovski, Croatia, Astana, :36.