St Gallen's Alex Zülle has won the fourth stage of the Paris-Nice cycling race, securing his first victory for German outfit Team Coast.
Zülle sprinted ahead of Portugal's José Azevedo just before the finish line to win the 200-kilometre stage between Tarascon and Sisteron. The two men had broken away from the pack with about eight kilometres remaining.
"This success was very important for the team's aim of securing one of the four wild cards for the Tour de France," said a happy Zülle after his win, although he admitted that his chances of repeating his overall Paris-Nice victory of 1993 remained slim.
"I lost too much time during the first stage", said the 32-year-old rider. "But perhaps I can still make it onto the podium."
Holland's Tristan Hoffman took third place in Thursday's stage, coming in four seconds behind Zülle and Azevedo, while the race's overall leader Peter van Petegem finished the stage in fourth place, stretching his lead over Germany's Jörg Jaksche to 11 seconds.
Despite Zülle's latest success, Laurent Dufaux is still the best-placed Swiss rider overall. Dufaux is currently in ninth position, 33 seconds behind Van Petegem.
swissinfo with agencies