Jalabert turns the screw on Boardman

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Laurent Jalabert took the overall lead in the Paris-Nice race yesterday with a powerful performance that earned the respect of Chris Boardman.

The Frenchman won the third stage with a finishing burst on the final 2.36-mile climb. Neither Lance Armstrong, who finished 16 seconds behind, nor Boardman, who was just edged into third place by the American, could match him.

"There was nothing I could do," Boardman said. "He opened a 200-metre gap with awesome speed, and if I had tried to chase I would have blown up. If he gets more than 30 seconds on me before the Nice time trial on Sunday, I can't see me beating him."

Jalabert now has a 20-second advantage over Armstrong and Boardman in the eight-day race.