CHATEL-GUYON, France – Jonathan Hivert of France won the third stage of Paris-Nice on Tuesday after a breakaway, while former champion Luis Leon Sanchez of Spain claimed the race leader’s yellow jersey.
Hivert moved to the front with 20 kilometers left and soon became part of a three-man breakaway with Sanchez and Remy Di Gregorio.
Di Gregorio tried to drop his rivals toward the end with three unsuccessful attacks and finished third, with Sanchez unable to respond to Hivert’s acceleration close to the finish line.
“I didn’t make any plans. I knew that I should try to follow the riders who broke clear or I would be in trouble,” Hivert said. “I played a little with the two others because in my head I knew I had it won before the line.”
Sanchez, who won Paris-Nice in 2009, took the lead from Arnaud Demare of France, who won the peloton’s sprint 38 seconds back.
Sanchez has a 28-second lead over Demare overall, with Gorka Izagirre of Spain in third place, 35 seconds off the pace.
“I wanted to go for the stage win but the yellow jersey is a good consolation,” Sanchez said. “I’m going first to try to recuperate and do my best to keep that jersey.”
Wednesday’s fourth stage is a 18.5-kilometer time trial around Saint-Etienne.
“Paris-Nice really starts tomorrow,” Sanchez said.