Bradley Wiggins retained the leader's yellow jersey following the third stage of the Paris-Nice race.
The British Team Sky rider maintained his six-second lead over American Levi Leipheimer by finishing 20th, with the same time as the winner.
The 194km stage from Vierzon to Le Lac de Vassiviere was won by Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, his fourth victory of the season.
"It was really hard today; everybody was knackered," said Wiggins.
Paris-Nice overall standings
Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain), Sky Procycling - 9 hours, 9 minutes, 41 seconds
Levi Leipheimer (US), Omega Pharma-Quick Step - 6 secs behind
Tejay van Garderen (US), BMC Racing - 11 secs
Sylvain Chavanel (France), Omega Pharma-Quick Step - 14 secs
Maxime Montfort (Belgium), Radioshack-Nissan - 18 secs
Team Sky controlled much of the race, pegging back a three-man breakaway that built up a five-minute lead.
However, Movistar rider Valverde surged ahead in the final stretch after a short climb and just held off Simon Gerrans of Australia. Belgian Gianni Meersman finished third.
Valverde is now sixth overall, 20 seconds behind Wiggins, who took the overall lead after
finishing 11th in the second stage
from Mantes-la-Jolie to Orleans on Monday.
The 178km fourth stage of the eight-day race runs from Brive-la-Gaillarde to Rodez on Wednesday.