Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Peter Velits kept himself protected as the peloton dwindled to a select group after the final climb, the Cote de la Sizeranne, at km 191 out of 199.5km of Paris-Nice Stage 4 on Thursday.
As a result, the legs of Velits were still fresh enough for a good sprint in the final and a 3rd place finish. Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) won the stage and Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) was 2nd.
Velits moved himself all the way into 3rd in the GC, coming into the stage 08" down. He is now 04" down on race leader Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp). Sylvain Chavanel is also in the top 5 of the GC for OPQS, sitting in 4th, also 04" back from Talansky. Chavanel was a tremendous protagonist in the final two climbs of the day. Chavanel was constantly pushing the pace and ensured a select group would emerge, — and the GC would remain in the favor of OPQS.
Gianni Meersman was another OPQS actor in the stage, making the break of the day that was eventually caught as the peloton split into several groups.
"I'm happy about my legs and my condition, but have a bittersweet feeling with my result," Velits said. "I did a mistake in the final meters and lost my position in the sprint. I couldn't contest the win because of this. But OK, overall I am happy with my condition and my position in the GC. I will try and fight for the position tomorrow, along with Chavanel."
"Today I had really good legs," Chavanel said. "I'm happy about my race so far. Today I tried, but when I attacked there was headwind. So I decided to not really go deep. At the sprint I was a little bit too far, but it's OK for the moment. The gaps between the riders at the top of the GC are really close. Tomorrow there will be another difficult stage, but I think the classification will be determined on the last TT at Col d'Eze."