Australian Michael Matthews sprinted into the overall lead of the Paris-Nice as his Orica Greenedge team provided the perfect lead-out on stage three.
A three-rider break, featuring home favourite Thomas Voeckler, had led by more than five minutes at 50km out, but were reeled in to set up a mass finish.
Orica took control and Matthews held off Italy's Davide Cimolai and Giacomo Nizzolo with some ease in the sprint.
Team Sky's Geraint Thomas moved up a place to ninth in the overall standing.
The Welshman is 14 seconds off new leader Matthews, who replaces Polish world road race champion Michal Kwiatkowski at the top of the general classification.
Former Tour de France champion Sir Bradley Wiggins, who is riding in support of Thomas and Sky's Australian race leader Richie Porte, has slipped to 118th overall after finishing 48 seconds behind the stage winner.
Wiggins, 34, is believed to be focusing his efforts on challenging in April's Paris-Roubaix race before switching to the track for the remainder of the season.
Paris - Nice Stage Three result
1. Michael Matthews (Australia / Orica) 4:32:12"
2. Davide Cimolai (Italy / Lampre) ST
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Italy / Trek)
4. Alexander Kristoff (Norway / Katusha)
5. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spain / Movistar)
6. Matti Breschel (Denmark / Tinkoff - Saxo)
7. Moreno Hofland (Netherlands / LottoNL)
8. Nacer Bouhanni (France / Cofidis)
9. Bryan Coquard (France / Europcar)
10. Arnaud Demare (France / FDJ)
Classification after stage three
1. Michael Matthews (Australia / Orica) 14:25:26"
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland / Etixx - Quick-Step) +1"
3. Rohan Dennis (Australia / BMC Racing)
4. John Degenkolb (Germany / Giant) +3"
5. Tony Martin (Germany / Etixx - Quick-Step) +8"
6. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spain / Astana) +11"
7. Sylvain Chavanel (France / IAM Cycling)
8. Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands / Giant) +14"
9. Geraint Thomas (Britain / Team Sky)
10. Philippe Gilbert (Belgium / BMC Racing)
118, Bradley Wiggins (Britain / Team Sky) +01' 31"