Talansky takes third stage and Paris-Nice lead
Andrew Talansky wins, Paris-Nice 2013, stage three
Garmin-Sharp's Andrew Talansky sprinted to win the third stage of Paris-Nice in Brioude this afternoon, and with it the race leader's yellow jersey.
Talansky won from a group of seven riders - including Sky's Richie Porte - who broke clear on the fast run-in to the finish and crucially put time into a number of their GC rivals at the end of a cold and wet day's racing. It was also the American team's first victory of 2013.
Given the inclement conditions, it was hardly surprising that Alexis Vuillermoz (Sojasun), Martin Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM), Mads Christensen (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Sébastien Minard (Ag2r-La Mondiale) broke away not long after the stage start, and were allowed to stay clear until 22 kilometres from the line.
By then, the peloton were in full-flight, and even before they had got to the second-category Côte de Mauvagnat with 18 kilometres remaining several riders had lost touch at the back of the pack.
Overnight leader Elia Viviani (Cannondale) was among those distanced on the lower slopes of the climb, as Sky's blistering pace significantly whittled the peloton down.
Andriy Grivko (Astana) attacked over the top, and was quickly chased down by Sky's Belarussian Vasil Kiriyenka. Kiriyenka rode gung-ho on the technical and visibly slippery descent and before long crashed hard on a sweeping corner.
Grivko slowed to avoid him, which allowed four others - including another Sky rider, David Lopez - to bridge across to the lone leader.
Richie Porte and Talansky also made it across to the leaders, but only after Lopez had dropped back to pace his team-mate up. The Garmin rider did little to help the chase, which no doubt helped in the kick for the line.
BMC, Movistar and RadioShack-Trek were among those teams who missed the split, and initially it appeared as if their efforts would see them reel in the escapees before the finish.
However the impetus behind was momentarily lost with around three kilometres to go, allowing the seven leaders to stay away and contest the finish.
David Malacarne (Europcar) was the only one to chance a speculative attack in the final kilometre, but the fight for the stage win came down to a sprint, with Talansky claiming the biggest victory of his career to date.
Paris-Nice 2013, stage three: Châtel-Guyon to Brioude, 170.5km
1. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp in 4-06-15
2. David Malacarne (Ita) Europcar
3. Gorka Izaguirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
4. David Lopez (Spa) Team Sky
5. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
7. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana all at st.
8. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Sojasun at 0-07
9. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana
10. Maxime Bouet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
General classification after stage three
1. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp in 14-39-36
2. Andriy Grivo (Ukr) Astana at 0-03
3. David Malacarne (Ita) Europcar at st.
4. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) at 0-04
5. Gorka Izaguirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 0-05
6. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 0-06
7. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky at 0-07
8. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 0-08
9. David Lopez (Spa) Team Sky at 0-09
10. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Sojasun at 0-12