Cycling: Wiggins maintains grip on yellow jersey
Published 07/03/2012 | 05:00
Britain's Bradley Wiggins retained his yellow jersey at the end of Stage 3 of Paris-Nice yesterday as Spaniard Alejandro Valverde took the stage victory in an uphill sprint into Lac de Vassiviere.
Wiggins' Sky team controlled the race for much of the stage, allowing a three-man breakaway group a maximum lead of four and a half minutes before slowly beginning to reel them in with the help of Valverde's Movistar squad and Omega Pharma Quickstep.
A fast-finishing Simon Gerrans of GreenEdge almost caught Valverde on the uphill sprint to the line but the Spaniard held on to take his fourth victory since returning from a two-year doping ban in January -- and moved up to sixth overall.
"I have to thank the team again," said Valverde. "They did a phenomenal job in the finale and I was able to finish it off. This victory is for them because they deserve it."
Wiggins finished 20th to retain his six-second advantage over second-placed Levi Leipheimer of Omega Pharma Quickstep. "Full-on bunch sprints like that are never easy," said the British champion. "There was a lot of jostling for position before the hill but I was happy to finish in the front group. My team rode fantastically for me today and controlled the race from the beginning to end. I've always said this race is going to come down to the Col d'Eze time trial on Sunday. If I'm in the mix before that I'll be happy and then it's all to play for."
Nicolas Roche crossed the line in 48th place and moved up 30 places to 33rd overall, three minutes and 12 seconds behind Wiggins.