Demare edges four-way photo-finish in Paris-Nice opener

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Meudon (France) (AFP)

French champion Arnaud Demare of the Groupama-FDJ team won the first stage of the Paris-Nice race on Sunday but had to await a photo-finish decision before celebrating.

Demare, Gorka Izagirre, Christophe Laporte and Tim Wellens, finished in a line after as a closing two kilometres up a gradient ended on a narrow cobbled section in the town of Meudon on the outskirts of Paris.

Thanks to bonus seconds awarded to the winner Demare leads Izagirre by four seconds in the overall standings going into the second of eight stages.

"I thought I'd come second," said Demare, who also won last year.

"I threw my bike at the line in desperation."

The American Tejay Van Garderen pulled out after a nasty fall on the rain slick 135km route.

Monday's second stage is a 187.5km run from Orsonville to Vierzon in central France which should see a sprinter win.