Germany’s Jens Voigt took the yellow jersey away from Lars Boom. Sagan is second, six seconds behind.
Top five placings in the 153-kms third stage between St Yrieix-la-Perche and Aurillac.
1. Peter Sagan (Slovakia, Liquigas)
2. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spain, Katusha)
3. Nicolas Roche (Ireland, AG2R)
4. Jens Voigt (Gemrnay, Team Saxo Bank)
5. Tony Martin (Germany, Columbia)
Peter Sagan (Liquigas) wins the stage.
Results at the top of the Cote de la Martinie (km 150)
1. Roche 7 pts
2. Sagan 5
3. Rodriguez 3
4. Tony Martin 2
5. Alberto Contador 1
Nicolas Roche was first at the top ahead of Peter Sagan.
Nicolas Roche was the first to attack on the Cote de la Martinie. Luis Leon Sanchez is chasing behind the Irishman.
The peloton are on the last climb, led by the HTC Columbia team.
Km 147 - Roelandts and Huguet shake hands and call it quits. The break is over and the two have spent 116 kms at the front.
Huguet and Roelandts keep trying and do not give up. But there are only 10 seconds left with 6 kms to go.
The gap is down to 20 seconds 10 kms from the line.
The gap between Huguet, Roelandts and the peloton is now down to 40 seconds. It will be hard to keep in the last climb.
Cofidis team director Francis Van Londerseele told France Television his riders were working at the front of the bunch for Samuel Dumoulin: "He’s in great shape and we feel he can do somthing here," he said.
Huguet and Roelandts lead the peloton by 1:15 with 15 kms to go.
Maes has been caught by the main pack.
Maes 20 seconds behind
Peloton 1:20 behind.
Huguet and Roelandts ride past the 20-kms mark.
Roelandts made it back on Huguet. Nikolas Maes has been dropped by his former companions and is now 15 seconds adrift.
Sensing that the peloton was closing the gap, Huguet attacked.
The three just rode past the 25-kms from the finish mark.
Km 127 - Only one minute left for Huguet, Maes and Roelandts over the peloton, constantly led by the full Caisse d’Epargne team.
Km 124 - The lead of the three escapees is down to 1:05 at the sprint.
Results of the sprint in Montvert (km 124):
1. Roelandts 3 secs, 3 points
2. Huguet 2 secs, 2 pts
3. Maes 1 sec, 1 pt.
The riders covered 39.3 kms in the third hour of the stage for an overall average speed of 39.6 kph.
Yann Huguet has collected 14 points in this stage. He is now but four points behind compatriot Laurent Mangel, who was on 11 points at the start and grabbed seven so far today.
Km 112 - Maes, Roelands and Huguet only lead by two minutes now.
The gap goes down with 40 kms left: 2:30.
Results at the top of the Cote de Sexcles (2nd cat, Km 110)
1. Huguet 7 pts
2. Roelandts 5
3. Maes 3
4. Simon Geschke (Skil) 2
5. Mangel 1
Yann Huguet (Skil) was first at the top of the Cote de Sexcles (km 110) ahead of Roelandts and Maes.
Caisse dâ€™Epargne team director Yvon Ledanois said his riders were full of ambitions on this stage: â€śCaisse dâ€™Epargne are taking their responsibilities. We came here to win and this is a stage which suits us. It suits Alejandro Valverde but also Luis-Leon Sanchez. He is the title holder and he showed since the start of the season that he has the form to win Paris-Nice again,â€ť he told France Television.
Km 97 - Huguet, Maes and Roelandts maintain the gap at 4:45.
Km 88 - The latest gap is 4:40.
The Caisse dâ€™Epargne have shown great form in the last couple of days and they are again leading the chase today. A reminder that LL Sanchez knows the terrain well after winning a Tour de France stage in Aurillac in 2008 while the finale could suit Alejandro Valverde ideally.
Km 78 â€“ The bunch keep coming back on the three escapees, whose lead is now cut down to 4:30.
The average speed in the second hour of the stage was 35.1 kph. Overall, the bunch rode at 39.8 kph so far.
Km 77 - The pace is going up in the peloton and the gap is now down to five minutes.
Results at the top of the Cote de Ste Fortunade (km 73)
1. Huguet 7 pts
2. Roelandts 5
3. Maes 3
4. Mangel 2
5. De Kort 1
The peloton 5:30 behind.
Huguet was first at the top of the Cote de Ste Fortunade, ahead of Roelandts and Maes.
Skil-Shimano team director Rudi Kemna told www.letour.fr why his team had a man in every break since the start of Paris-Nice:
"We don’t have a really good sprinter in the team so yes, it was a plan to show ourselves and to have a rider in every break but also the best tactics. Today, the outcome will depend on the peloton’s attitude. If only the Rabobank keep controlling the race, it could help us, but if the Astana and Caisse d’Epargne help them, it’ll be difficult. Yet I trust Yann Huguet, he’s a good rider, he climbs well and if the gap is still important in the last 40 kms, then I have a good feeling."
Km 67 - Maes, Roelandts and Huguet lead the peloton by seven minutes at the foot of the Cote de Ste Fortunade.
Km 54 - The three in the front now lead the peloton by 6:10. Riders from Rabobank and Caisse d’Epargne are leading the bunch.
Jurgen Roelandts, 24, was Belgian road champion in 2008 and also won Paris-Tours under-23 race in 2007. Nikolas Maes, 23, won a stage in the Tour of Burgos last year. Yann Huguet, 25, won the Tour du Doubs and the Rhone-Alpes-IsĂ¨re Tour last year.
Km 45 - Maes, Roelandts and Huguet now lead the peloton by 4:50
The average speed in the firts hour of the race was 44.5 kph.
Cervelo’s Joaquin Novoa Mendes has given up.
Among the most recent race finishes in Aurillac, a stage in the 2005 Tour de l’Avenir won by Bradley Wiggins, ahead of Saul Raisin and Steve Cummings, who is riding for Team Sky on this Paris-Nice. On the 2008 Tour, Luis-Leon Sanchez also won a stage finishing in Aurillac.
Km 36 - Maes, Roelandts and Huguet now lead the peloton by 1:05.
Km 33 - Three riders broke clear: Yann Huguet (Skil Shimano), Nikolas Maes (Quick Step) and Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma Lotto). The first gap is 45 seconds.
Km 24.5 - Timmer and Auge have benn caught. The bunch regroups.
Stephane Auge (Cofidis) is now chasing behind Timmer.
Km 22 - Albert Timmer (Skil Shimano), who already broke in the first stage with Romain Feillu, tries his luck again. He just parted company with the pack.
Results on the Cote de la Grande Renaudie (3rd cat, km 15)
1. Laurent Mangel (Fra, SAU) 4 pts
2. Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra, BTL) 2 pts
3. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra, OLO) 1 pt
On the web today More of Chris Hornerâ€™s really entertaining daily blog on Paris-Nice: â€śSome days you got it, and some days you don’t, and today was definitely the latter (...) For me already having lost any chance of a good overall place in yesterday’s crash, I backed off the pedals and rode the last mile and half to the finish easy. As I came around the next curve I saw the damage left from the sprint, as multiple riders were on the ground after having crashed hard. One of the Lampre riders had touched the wheel of the rider in front of him, causing him to go down hard and taking everyone around him down like dominos. At that moment I was no longer so upset with my ride for the day. It was a far cry from my best ever performance but I made it through in one piece and hopefully have given my body a little more time to recover from the crash. And, as they say, there’s always tomorrow!â€ť
The course shortening obviously made the bunch nervous as several attempts are taking place early on.
The start has been given at 13:05 to 170 riders. Grega Bole (Lampre) did not start.
The yellow jersey remains on the back of Dutchman Lars Boom (Rabobank), who still leads Jens Voigt (Team Saxo Bank) by five seconds. Title-holder Luis Leon Sanchez upstaged David Millar for third place thanks to the four-second bonus he earned by finishing third yesterday.
Luis Leon Sanchez also took the lead of the points classification and will wear the green jersey on the road today. Slovak Peter Sagan, the youngest rider in the bunch, is second on 38 points - two behind Sanchez â€“ thanks to his second place yesterday. Voigt lies third on 37 points.
Lars Boom is still the white jersey holder, but Czech Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) will wear it again today.
Franceâ€™s Laurent Mangel (Saur Sojasun) is the new polka-dot jersey holder thanks to his part in the second stageâ€™s breakaway.
Caisse dâ€™Epargne still top the team standings.
In lâ€™Equipe, Alberto Contador says he still feels pain in his leg after his crash in the first stage : "The day went reasonably well. But Iâ€™ve still got itches in my leg a little bit and the next couple of days will be crucial. Iâ€™m not a 100 percent and I don’t like that. I canâ€™t keep an ideal position on the bike. Iâ€™m going to see day by day."
In le Parisien, second stage winner William Bonnet said he had earmarked that stage on his roadbook : "When youâ€™re not used to win, itâ€™s a vicious circle. You spend your time in expectation, you lose your automatisms. Yet I finished 4th in the same stage three years ago and I had earmarked it on my book."
St Yirieix-la-Perche is the hometown of 1994 road world champion Luc Leblanc, who finished third in Paris-Nice in 1990.
Km 15 â€“ Cote de la Grande Renaudie (3rd cat)
Km 73 â€“ Cote de Sainte-Fortunade (2nd cat)
Km 110 â€“ Cote de Sexcles (2nd cat)
Km 150 â€“ Cote de la Martinie (2nd cat)
Km 124 - Montvert
The intermediate sprint originally scheduled to take place in Coussac-Bonneval - now only 11 kms after the new start - has been scrapped.
Welcome on the 155-kms 3rd stage between St Yrieix-la-Perche and Aurillac. Stay tuned to www.letour.fr
Because of snow at the scheduled start in St Junien, the start of the third stage to Aurillac has been moved by 53 kms to St Yrieix-la-Perche. The peloton will start at the scheduled passing time in St Yrieix, at 13:00.