Kwiatkowski beats Dennis to win Paris-Nice prologue stage

MAUREPAS, France (AP) Polish rider Michal Kwiatkowski won the prologue of the Paris-Nice race on Sunday, beating Australian Rohan Dennis by a tiny margin.

Kwiatkowski posted a time of 7 minutes, 40 seconds on the 6.7-kilometer (4.2-mile) course around Maurepas, which is located on the outskirts of Paris, finishing .31 seconds ahead of Dennis – who holds the world hour record.

Three-time world time trial champion Tony Martin of Germany placed third, seven seconds behind Kwiatkowski, with Spaniard Luis-Leon Sanchez 10 seconds behind in fourth place.

”It’s my first victory of the season and I’m very happy with my performance,” the 24-year-old Kwiatowski said. ”I’m very happy to have beaten Tony Martin and I based my time on his run. I don’t know if I’m capable of winning the race. It’s a long road to Nice and there are a lot of contenders.”

Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France champion, was 15 seconds back in 12th place.

The race continues Monday with a 196.5-kilometer (122-mile) trek from the Paris suburb of Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuse to Contres in central France. The flat route favors sprinters.

The race ends Sunday near the southern city of Nice.