CONTRES, France (AP) - Greg Henderson of New Zealand won a sprint Monday to take the first stage of the Paris-Nice race, and Lars Boom of the Netherlands maintained the overall lead. Henderson beat Slovenian rider Grega Bole and Jeremy Galland of France to complete the 125-mile flat stage in 4 hours, 22 minutes, 17 seconds.
"It was a headwind and it was like a slow motion sprint, and I was lucky to get it on the line," Henderson said. "It's beautiful to win here and to win such a beautiful race is a real honor."
Boom won the race prologue Sunday and finished in the main pack with the same time as Henderson and retained the yellow jersey, 5 seconds ahead of German veteran Jens Voigt.
British rider David Millar is in third place, 13 seconds back.
Two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador fell behind over the last 15 kilometers and moved down to eighth place in the standings, 25 seconds behind Boom. Contador also crashed three kilometers from the finish line but didn't appear injured. He was caught off-guard while Boom reacted quickly and joined the group of breakaway riders along with overall Valverde and Sanchez.
Contador crossed the finish line 17 seconds behind the stage winner. The Paris-Nice race ends Sunday. Tuesday's second stage will take the riders from Contres to Limoges on a 201K trek featuring three third-category climbs.