Switzerland's Michael Albasini sprinted to victory on the fourth stage of Paris-Nice on Thursday, as US rider Andrew Talansky held onto the leader's yellow jersey.
Orica's Albasini streaked clear of the pack to claim the 199.5km stage from Brioude to Saint-Vallier, with Kazakh Maxim Iglinskiy and Peter Velits of Slovakia in second and third.
Garmin's Talansky came home in the same time as the winner in sixth place to preserve the jersey he claimed in winning the previous day's third stage.
Albasini said he was happy with the win, as it gave him an idea of his form.
"I didn't really know how strong I was coming into Paris-Nice. I hadn't raced since Majorca (in early February) and there's been a lot of snow at home," the 32-year-old told reporters.
"The stage went well. I only lost time in the closing stages on Wednesday. Today I suffered over the bumps but I was able to keep in contact."
Talansky meanwhile praised his team and said it was important now to stay calm. He added that who his main challengers were was unclear but he was mindful of the threat from Tejay Van Garderen and Richie Porte.
Friday's fifth stage takes the riders 176km from Chateauneuf-du-Pape - a favoured holiday destination of medieval popes - to La Montagne de Lure, where the race finishes with a 13.6km-long category one climb.