Michael Albasini (Orica-GrenEDGE) has won the fourth stage of the 2013 Paris-Nice.
The Swiss rider sprinted to victory at the expense of Astana’s Maxim Iglinskiy, winner of last season’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Albasini and Iglinsky led the remains of the peloton into Saint-Vallier at the end of a grueling 199.5km stage that had crossed seven climbs and vastly reduced the front group.
Race leader, Andrew Talansky (Garmin Sharp), however, was among that front group and will begin stage five in the maillot jaune.
Albasini, winner of last year’s Volta a Catalunya, said: “It’s even nicer to win on a day when we also won with [Matt] Goss in Tirreno.
“It’s really perfect. It’s important to keep the wins going like we did last year.”
An early breakaway that included Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), king of the mountains at last year’s Tour de France, gained an advantage on the second of the day’s seven climbs.
The Frenchman ascended the second category, 1035 metre Cote de Condat with Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s Gianni Meersman and Johaan Tschopp, and was joined on the decent by Hubert Dupont (Ag2r), Romain Sicard (Euskaltel), Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank) and Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano).
The seven-strong breakaway gained up to four minutes on the Garmin-driven peloton. Fellow American-registered squad, BMC Racing, joined Garmin in their pursuit of the breakaway, and by the penultimate climb of the stage, the 363-metre, second category, Cote de Talencieux, the leaders knew they would have to fight to stay away.
Vocekler was the first to attack, and was soon joined by Dupont, but the pair’s effort on the climb was negated on the descent when they were joined by Tschopp and Meersman.
The quartet was swept up ahead of the final climb, the second category hump of the Cote de la Sizeranne, in an acceleration by the peloton that despatched key riders, among them, Ivan Basso (Cannondale Pro Cycling), and reduced the lead group to about 40 riders.
Maxime Monfort (RadioShack-Leopard) launched an attack as the road rose again for the start of the Sizeranne, but his move was shut down by Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s Sylvain Chavanel, who immediately launched his own assault. He was joined by Michele Scarponi (Lampre), newly returned from a doping suspension, and by Andreas Klöden (RadioShack-Leopard), Team Sky’s Richie Porte, and by Talansky.
The quartet’s time in the sun was brief, however, with Nicolas Roche (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) among those who launched solo efforts in an attempt to break clear. Blanco Pro Cycling’s team leader, Robert Gesink, looked to have made the decisive move, but was caught with half of the final kilometre remaining by Iglinsky. The Kazakh, however, would in turn be overhauled by Albasini, whose victory in the end looked easy.
Tomorrow’s 199km stage from Châteauneuf-du-Pape includes six climbs, and ends on the first category La Montagne de Lure.
Paris-Nice 2013 – stage four – result
1) Michael Albasini (SUI) – Orica-GreenEdge – 4.55.41
2) Maxim Iglinskiy (KAZ) – Astana
3) Peter Velits (SVK) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep
4) Enrico Gasparotto (ITA) Astana
5) Diego Ulissi (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
6) Andrew Talansky (USA) – Garmin-Sharp
7) Romain Bardet (FRA) – AG2R-La Mondiale
8) Jens Keukeleire (BEL) – Orica-GreenEdge
9) Andreas Klöden (GER) – RadioShack-Leopard
10) Xavier Florencio (SPA) – Katusha
1) Andrew Talansky (USA) – Garmin-Sharp -19.35.17
2) Andriy Grivko (UKR) – Astana +3”
3) Peter Velits (SVK) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep +4”
4) Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep
5) Gorka Izaguirre (SPA) – Euskaltel-Euskadi +5”
6) Lieuwe Westra (NED) – Vacansoleil-DCM +6”
7) Richie Porte (AUS) – Team Sky +7”
8) Maxim Iglinskiy (KAZ) – Astana +13”
9) Jean-Christophe Peraud (FRA) – AG2R-La Mondiale
10) Bart De Clercq (BEL) – Lotto-Belisol +15”