Geraint Thomas takes Paris-Nice lead

Geraint Thomas has taken the overall lead at the first major European stage race of the UCI World Tour season, Paris-Nice.

The Cardiff-born rider finished the day's fourth stage in second place behind Dutch Garmin Sharp rider Tom-Jelte Slagter to take the overall lead ahead of Germany's John Degenkolb by three seconds.

Geraint Thomas pictured in 2013 Credit: Press Association

Thomas's Team Sky rode from the front of the peloton throughout the closing 40km before the reigning Olympic track champion broke free of the lead group alongside Slagter, the pair holding on to fight out a sprint finish.

The ride means Thomas holds the slim overall lead at the halfway stage of the race and adds further to his reputation as a Grand Tour General Classification contender of the future.