Irish cyclist Sam Bennett held his nerve in a bunched sprint finish to claim the third stage of the Paris-Nice race.

The 26-year-old took the 190km stage from Chablis to Chalon-sur-Saone and fought off challenges from the likes of Alexander Kristoff,  Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel to win in a time of 4:31:14".

The Bora-Hansgrohe rider had time to celebrate as he crossed the line for his biggest win to date and lies 23rd in the overall classification, two minutes and seven seconds behind French rider Arnaud Demare.

Ohh we love this result!!! Awesome sprint of @Sammmy_Be #ParisNice pic.twitter.com/8qmhQUQWie

"I had a lot of confidence coming into this just from the feeling in my legs," Bennett said on Eurosport. "I've had good form recently, at the Tour Down Under I had the speed but I didn't get the opportunities.

"I knew with a bit of luck today and the support of my team something was possible."

Bennett is the first Irishman to win a stage of Paris-Nice, known as the 'Race to the Sun', since Stephen Roche in 1989. Sean Kelly was the overall winner in seven consecutive editions from 1982 to 1988.

FDJ's Arnaud Demare finished sixth to retain the overall lead by six seconds from fellow Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe of Quick-Step Floors.

Alaphilippe's Irish team-mate Dan Martin is well placed in the general classification in ninth place, 23 seconds back, the same time as Team Sky's Sergio Henao.