Luis Leon Sanchez won cycling's Paris-Nice race despite a bold attack from fellow Spaniard Alberto Contador on the eighth and last stage around Nice.
|Sanchez and his yellow jersey leads the peloton [AFP]
Another Spaniard, Antonio Colom of Katusha, was the first to cross the line at the end of the 119-km ride featuring three category-one climbs, when he out-sprinted Astana's Contador and Luxemburg's Frank Schleck of Saxo Bank.
Caisse d'Epargne rider Sanchez, who took the overall lead with victory on Saturday, ended the stage 17 seconds behind, according to provisional results, keeping his yellow jersey with a one-minute advantage over Schleck.
"I trusted my team mates and I want to thank them," said Sanchez, who won last year's final stage of the Paris-Nice.
"I had talked with Frank Schleck and I was confident his (Saxo Bank) team would do some work in the peloton," he said on Sunday.
"To me, it's amazing to have been fighting with Alberto, who is a good friend, for the overall victory."
France's Sylvain Chavanel of Quick Step was third, nine seconds further behind with Contador, who lost the lead when he cracked on Saturday, in fourth place 1.24 off the pace.
|Keep your eyes on the road [AFP]
Astana leader Contador attacked just before the foot of the Col de la Porte, a 7.2-km climb at an average gradient of 7.2 percent.
He quickly caught a group of fugitives before jumping ahead of the small bunch along with France's Sandy Casar, Estonian Rein Taaramae, Spaniard David Lopez Garcia and the quartet was soon joined by Aitor Hernandez of Spain.
They climbed the Col de la Porte at a high pace and opened a gap of 2.28 over Sanchez, who lost several seconds with a puncture on the ascent.
A winner of the Tour Mediterraneen earlier this year, Sanchez found appropriate allies to chase Contador, who was at the time the virtual overall leader of the race.
On the descent, the Saxo Bank team set the pace for the peloton and Contador's lead had been reduced to 15 seconds before the ascent of the Col de la Turbie.
Contador, though, used his climbing skills to increase his lead to 52 seconds but after sprinting solo to the top of the Col d'Eze, he was eventually caught up by Schleck and Colom 9.5 kms from the finish.
Colom, a former team mate of Contador at Astana, launched the sprint and resisted Contador's fight-back.