March 11, 2012

COL D'EZE, France (AP) -- Bradley Wiggins beat Lieuwe Westra by 2 seconds in the decisive mountain time trial to win the Paris-Nice race for the first time Sunday.

Wiggins was leading the Dutchman by 6 seconds coming in and maintained his advantage in the 6-mile uphill dash from Nice to Col d'Eze to become the first Briton to win the race since Tom Simpson in 1967. Wiggins beat Westra by 8 seconds overall.

Simpson, just months after his Paris-Nice win, died on the '67 Tour de France on a climb up Mont Ventoux.

"I know the history of cycling - it's a massive thing for me," three-time Olympic gold medalist Wiggins said. "It's an historic race, and it's an honor for me to join my idol Tom Simpson on the Paris-Nice list."

Alejandro Valverde had 18 seconds to make up on Wiggins, and that proved too much as he slipped 1:10 behind overall, but the Spaniard did enough to finish third.

The 31-year-old Wiggins is expected to be among the contenders to win the Tour de France later this year.

"I've already finished fourth on the Tour, third on the (Spanish) Vuelta, first at the Criterium du Dauphine (Libere) and Paris-Nice," Wiggins said. "I know I'll be among the best on the Tour. I don't know about the favorite, because there's four months to go, but in the top five."

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