The Movistar rider jumped away from the group of favorites with more than 50 kilometers left in the 110-km mountainous ride around Nice to take third place in the eighth stage won by fellow Spaniard David de la Cruz of Team Sky.
While Contador lost this race by four seconds in 2016 and two seconds in 2017, Soler was able to employ Contador-esque tactics to successful effect as he took by far the biggest win of his career so far, and started to deliver on the talent shown by his victory in the Tour de l'Avenir in 2015.
"I'm progressing each year and I'm getting used to riding at that level".
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Astana Pro Team's Omar Fraile finished just behind De la Cruz, while the Paris-Nice victor finished in third.
Soler did not have the legs to contest the sprint finish, with De la Cruz overhauling Fraile at the death. And now I lost Paris-Nice by four seconds.
"It went full gas at the first intermediate sprint for the time bonus", the 24-year-old Soler said.
Yates found himself isolated at the back and the trio built a maximum lead of 1 minute and 30 seconds.
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As a result, the 2014 champions remain eight points behind league leaders Barca, but they are seven clear of Real Madrid in third. But Espanyol drew level early in the second half when Leo Baptistao latched onto a neat ball from Esteban Granero to make it 1-1.
And Yates then made his move to the top of the standings on the penultimate day with victory on the queen stage at La Colmiane, the Briton seizing an opportunity as Sanchez waned.
Yates ended the stage in sixth place to finish second overall to Soler and ahead of Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida).
You have to go back to 1976 for the last time four different French riders picked up four stage wins at Paris-Nice (and that was back in the days where the race consisted of 10 stages) so the home crowd will have been delighted with the week's results.
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