Arnaud Demare tops opening stage of Paris-Nice race in photo finish

MEUDON, France — Arnaud Demare won the opening stage of the Paris-Nice race in a photo finish on Sunday after edging out three other riders in a sprint to the line.

The French cyclist, who also won the first stage last year, beat Spanish rider Gorka Izagirre, countryman Christophe Laporte and Tim Wellens of Belgium.

"It's the first time I've won in a photo finish. I was sure I'd finished second," Demare said. "My legs were burning, 250 meters from the line I thought I was finished. I attacked at the same time as Izagirre and I went on his wheel. It's an enormous surprise to have won."

Demare finished in 3 hours, 7 minutes, 39 seconds over the 135 kilometers (84 miles) from Chatou to Meudon on the outskirts of Paris.

Monday's second stage is another flat stage, taking the peloton 187.5 kilometers (116.3 miles) from Orsonville in the Yvelines suburb of Paris to Vierzon on the approach to central France.

The race ends next Sunday in the southern city of Nice.

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