Switzerland’s Michael Albasini sprinted to victory on the fourth stage of the Paris-Nice on Thursday, as US rider Andrew Talansky held onto the leader’s yellow jersey.
Orica Greenedge’s Albasini streaked clear of the peloton to claim the 199.5km stage from Brioude to Saint-Vallier, France, with Kazakhstan’s Maxim Iglinskiy and Peter Velits of Slovakia in second and third.
Garmin-Sharp’s Talansky came home in the same time as the winner in sixth place to preserve the jersey he claimed after winning the previous day’s third stage.
Albasini said he was happy with the win, as it gave him an idea of his form.
“I didn’t really know how strong I was coming into Paris-Nice. I hadn’t raced since Mallorca [early last month] and there’s been a lot of snow at home,” the 32-year-old told reporters. “The stage went well. I only lost time in the closing stages on Wednesday. Today, I suffered over the bumps, but I was able to keep in contact.”
Talansky, meanwhile, praised his team and said it was important now to stay calm. He added that the identity of his main challengers was unclear, but he was mindful of the threat from Tejay van Garderen and Richie Porte.
The fifth stage takes the riders 176km from Chateauneuf-du-Pape — a favored holiday destination of medieval popes — to La Montagne de Lure, where the race finishes with a 13.6km category one climb.
Australian Matthew Goss of Orica Greenedge won the second stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico over 232km from San Vincenzo to Indicatore, Italy, in a sprint finish on Thursday.
Britain’s Mark Cavendish of Omega Pharma-Quick Step retained the leader’s blue jersey, despite finishing only fifth on the stage.
“It was quite chaotic in the final laps because it was raining, there were a lot of risks,” Cavendish said. “I feel we could have got a lot more out of that race than we actually did today, but we will try again tomorrow.”
Italian Manuel Belletti was second, with German Gerald Ciolek taking third.