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Paris-Nice St. 3: Talansky Into Yellow!

Garmin-Sharp's Andrew Talansky took the first World Tour victory of his promising career today with a sprint from an escape to seal stage 3 of Paris-Nice. The win, including time bonuses, put the 24-year-old American climber into the maillot jaune as the race heads toward the mountain stages.

Doug Pensinger

Talansky's win came from an escape on the descent of the Cote de Mauvagnat, the final climb of the day's stage to Brioude, as Sky's Richie Porte accelerated away with Talansky, Romain Bardet, Gorka Izagirre, Davide Malacarne and David Lopez. The group swept up Andriy Grivko, who had jumped out at the summit with Sky's Vasil Kiryienka, but Kiryienska locked up his brakes on the descent, crashing out of the lead. That left eight riders hammering for home over the last 8km, with a GC contingent of 23 riders in chase.

The gap held to the line, and the seven escapees spread across the road to sprint for the stage victory, Talansky timed his acceleration a little later than his break-mates, finishing it off in fine style up the center of the road, half a wheel ahead of Malacarne, followed by Izagirre. Overnight leader Elia Viviani fell nearly three minutes back on the day's final climb, meaning the race was on for yellow, and that too fell to Talansky, thanks to bonuses, now holding a three second lead over Grivko and Malacarne.

Today was one of those days that makes riders love Tirreno-Adriatico, as a cold rain drenched the Paris-Nice peloton for most of the day. Alexis Vuillermoz, Martijn Keizer, Mads Christensen and Sebastian Minard were out on a breakaway for much of the stage, before being reeled in as the race made its way through the final circuit ending in Brioude. With 20km to go the Cote de Mauvagnat began to bite the sprinters, as Sky took over the pacemaking, leaving Viviani off the back, his lead gone. Max Iglinsky accelerated a couple times, and the pace remained high, opening up the first real time gaps of the race, as Grivko made it first over the summit with Kiryienka, who promptly crashed out on the slippery descent with a touch too much on the brakes, locking up his wheel. Porte, seeing his teammate down, took Sky's stage mission into his own hands and attacked on the descent, forming the winning six-man escape before adding Grivko, while two dozen of the race favorites, led by BMC's Tejay van Garderen looking out for Philippe Gilbert's stage chances, kept them close. Gilbert never got to launch his formidable stage sprint, though, as the escape powered on, and eventually Gilbert had to pitch in to the chase on behalf of van Garderen's overall chances. Sylvain Chavanel saw the same writing on the wall and took a pull. In the end the damage was minimal, with van Garderen, Chavanel, Lieuwe Westra and other big names holding the gap to seven seconds.

Damage was done to a few favorites, particularly the Blanco contingent, as Robert Gesink was in the next group, 1.05 down, with names like Jakob Fuglsang, Michael Albasini, Denis Menchov and Tony Gallopin.

Much change to the classifications...