Pogacar battles 'difficult' day to extend Paris-Nice lead

Two-time former Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar came through the "first really difficult" day of his season to take full control of Paris-Nice on Saturday after winning the seventh stage.

UAE Team Emirates' Pogacar is now 12 seconds ahead of Groupama-FDJ's David Gaudu and last year's Tour champion Jonas Vingegaard in third, 58 seconds behind in the overall standings.

Pogacar, 24, is competing in his second main event of the campaign after winning last month's Vuela a Andalucia in Spain.

"It was my first really difficult day of the season," the Slovenian said.

"Coming to final climb everyone was already a bit dead," he added.

Friday's sixth stage, which was scheduled to begin near Marseille, was cancelled due to violent winds close to the Mediterranean coast.

In calmer conditions on the penultimate day, Pogacar made another statement on the race and the season after also clinching stage four on Wednesday as he fought off Frenchman Gaudu and Dane Vingegaard on the final climb after 142.8km in the saddle.

Riding up Col de la Couilloule, with a summit finish at 1,678m, Pogacar edged his two closest rivals with Gaudu ending two seconds behind and Jumbo-Visma's Vingegaard a further six.

Paris-Nice, nicknamed 'The Race to the Sun', ends on Sunday with a 117.5km mountainous ride starting and ending in the southern city on the Cote d'Azur.

"Tomorrow is another really hard day - I think the hardest of the whole Paris-Nice but the climbs are better for me tomorrow," Pogacar said.

"We try to defend as hard as possible," he added.