March 14, 2007

Russia's Alexandr Kolobnev won the third stage of the Paris-Nice race Wednesday, and Italy's Franco Pellizotti kept the overall lead.

Kolobnev finished 12 seconds ahead of Belgian sprinter Tom Boonen, who led the main pack in a sprint to the line. The 134-mile leg was the longest of the race.

Kolobnev finished in 4 hours, 59 minutes, 35 seconds, while Daniele Bennati of Italy matched Boonen's time.

"It was really a beautiful day for me," Kolobnev said. "First with the breakaway where we all worked well and in the final (sprint), where I managed to get out and hold off the peleton."

The Russian was part of a quartet that broke away after 1.2 miles. Kolobnev, Fabio Baldato, Heinrich Haussler and Nicolas Vogondy then rode ahead until the end.

The same riders kept the top eight places overall, but Bennati moved ahead of David Millar of Britain into second place. Bennati is two seconds behind Pellizotti, and Millar is six seconds behind the leader in third.

Thursday's 105-mile fourth stage is from Maurs La Jolie to Mende. The race ends Sunday in Nice.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

APTV 03-14-07 1355EDT

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