Great Britain is now the third-highest ranked nation in the Union Cycliste Internationale’s latest world ranking after the points gained by Bradley Wiggins’ performance at Paris-Nice have been taken into account.

Wiggins placed third overall at Paris-Nice on Sunday and second in the race’s time trial stage on Friday, the second event in the UCI’s top-flight Worldtour race calendar netting him 74 points. He now sits in sixth position in the individual rider table – published on Monday afternoon -  behind fifth-placed compatriot and Sky team-mate Ben Swift, who won two stages and placed third overall at the Tour Down Under in January.

Last year, Wiggins finished the entire 2010 season with just 18 points.

Paris-Nice winner Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad – Germany) has entered the ranking in top spot, unseating Tour Down Under winner Cameron Meyer (Garmin-Cervelo – Australia), now in second place. Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad – Australia) is in third.

Britain sits in third spot in the ranking-by-country with 157 points. Australia is top country with 297 points and Germany second with 234 points. Ranking points are used to decide the number of places for the road World Championships.

British sprinter Mark Cavendish will be vying for the world title in Copenhagen in October, and will benefit from a full-strength British team to back him up. Such a strong start to the season for has already secured vital points in Britain’s bid for Worlds places.

The UCI’s world ranking is compiled using a points system, with points awarded for one-day race, tour stage and stage race overall finishing positions for events in the UCI’s World Calendar.

The amount of points awarded depends on the ranking of the event. For example, winning the Tour de France overall gives a rider twice as many points as winning the Eneco Tour overall.

Spanish rider Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) finished with the most points – 551 – in the 2010 world ranking. Top British rider was Cavendish (HTC) with 198 points. Britain finished last year with 333 points in total.

This year’s ranking differs from previous seasons as it includes all WorldTour events.  The rankings will be updated after Tirreno-Adriatico that finishes tomorrow (Tuesday, March 14).

UCI World Ranking, as at Monday March 14 2011

Ranking by rider

1. Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad 108 points

2. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Garmin-Cervelo 106 points

3. Matt Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad 103 points

4. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Radioshack 88 points

5. Ben Swift (GB) Sky 82 points

6. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky 74 points

Ranking by nation

1. Australia 297 points

2. Germany 234 points

3. Great Britain 157 points

4. Spain 108 points

5. France 69 points