Stefan Bissegger replaced Michael Matthews as the general classification leader ©Getty Images

Swiss rider Stefan Bissegger took the overall lead in Paris-Nice after coming out on top in the individual time trial in Gien.

Bissegger of EF Education–NIPPO completed the 14.4 kilometre stage three in a winning time of 17min 34.12sec as he replaced Australian Michael Matthews as the general classification leader.

The 22-year-old, who finished runner-up to world champion Filippo Ganna in the recent United Arab Emirates Tour, edged out Frenchman Rémi Cavagna of Deceuninck–Quick-Step by a hundredth of a second.

"I worked a long time for this," said Bissegger.

"I'm quite young, but I think I could show that I'm here.

"The time trial is really my thing, I come from the track.

"Short courses like this one are good for me. It's nice to come here and take the win.

"I train a lot on the TT bike so I can handle it pretty well. 

"It definitely makes me happy.

"It's one of the biggest races of the early season and the first yellow jersey of my career, it’s really nice to be in that situation."

Slovenia’s Primož Roglič of Jumbo-Visma had to settle for third, six seconds behind the leading duo and just ahead of American Brandon McNulty of UAE Team Emirates and Denmark’s Søren Kragh Andersen of Team DSM.

Stefan Bissegger beat Rémi Cavagna by a hundredth of a second in the time-trial ©Getty Images
Stefan Bissegger beat Rémi Cavagna by a hundredth of a second in the time-trial ©Getty Images

Stage four of the race is set to see riders tackle the 187.5km route from Chalon-Sur-Saone to Chiroubles.

The first day of the seven-stage Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy is also scheduled to take place tomorrow with Britain’s Simon Yates aiming to retain his title.

"I had a small crash in Strade Bianche, nothing too serious but we are taking everything very consciously and calmly," said Yates of Team BikeExchange in a report by Cycling News.

"I hope to arrive in Tirreno ready to go and hopefully I can do a good performance.

"It looks like a very classic route, from what I can see, you have sprint stages and a summit finish.

"It’s not a climb that I know, but I have seen the videos of it in the past, and hopefully I can do a good ride there.

"As always, the last stage is a time trial and it will be a good to test myself against the clock and just to see where the form is."

The race, scheduled to run from tomorrow until March 16, is set to be held under stringent coronavirus measures as Italy continues to grabble with the virus.

Slovenia's Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar of UAE Team Emirates, Belgium’s Wout van Aert of Jumbo-Visma and Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix are also expected to be in contention.

This year’s Tirreno-Adriatico will start with a 156km stage around Lido di Camaiore.