Gianni Meersman celebrates as he wins stage 4 of Paris-Nice. (AFP/Getty Images)
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The fourth stage of Paris-Nice finished in a bunch sprint, with young Belgian Gianni Meersman surprising some of the bigger names to take the win from Grega Bole (Lampre – ISD) and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team).
“I was third yesterday, and today the team worked all day. That gave me confidence and I’m really glad there was a victory,” Meersman said at the finish. “Today I was fast but I’m just happy I could win and I’m happy with the victory.”
Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling) saw his overall race lead remain intact, having no problems staying with the front part of peloton on the final climb into Rodez. Expected challenger Alejandro Valverde lacked the firepower to match Wiggins and his team, and there were no significant changes at the top end of the GC. Overall, Wiggins leads Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma QuickStep) by 6 seconds with Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) third at 11 seconds.
Tomorrow’s fifth stage could well shake up the GC as it finishes with a steep category one climb into Mende.
Wiggins remained in yellow