Vande Velde claims stage four in Paris-Nice classic
AMERICAN Christian Vande Velde claimed victory in the fourth stage of the Paris-Nice road race, as Spain's Alberto Contandor bounced back in France.
Vande Velde broke from the leading bunch with 20 kilometres to go but held on to take stage win, 14 seconds ahead of France's Jonathan Hivert and Italy's Marco Lorenzetto.
Contador, one of only five cyclists to have claimed victory in the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta,and claimed victory in this race in 2007.
The Spaniard held to Yellow Jersey after day one of the race, but a crash in the closing stages yesterday meant he had work to do going into the final four stages.
But he is now just 36 seconds off the pace, lying in fourth position and will be on his favourite terrain in the summit finish on Friday at the Montagne de Lure.
France's Sylvain Chavanel of France retained the overall lead despite suffering in the ascent of the Cote de Rochetaillee and losing 27 seconds to Contador, who attacked two kilometres from the summit.
Quick Step's Chavanel, who seized the yellow jersey in spectacular fashion on Tuesday, could not endure the Spaniard's sudden acceleration and his overall lead over Spain's Manuel Garate dwindled to six seconds.
Earlier in the day, Great Britain's three-time Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins, who finished the opening time trial in second behind Contador on day one, for personal family reasons.