Bouhanni Takes Stage 1 of Paris-Nice
The French road race champion took a bunch gallop to win the flat, 195-km run from Saint-Germain-en-Laye to Nemours in 4:47:24. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Merida) finished second, and Elia Viviani (Cannondale) took third. The bonus seconds that Bouhanni earned at the finish line have given him the overall lead.
The hostilities started early. At the gun, Romain Sicard (Euskaltel-Euskadi) attacked, and Bert-Jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Yannick Talabordon (Sojasun) joined him. The peloton did not lift a pedal to stop the trio, and by 42 km, the break led the bunch by seven minutes. Europcar began to ride tempo on behalf of overall leader Damien Gaudin, and the fugitives' advantage had dropped to five minutes by 100 km.
Crashes cut a swath through the bunch. At 127 km, a crash took down Rui Costa (Movistar), Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Leopard), Lucas Haedo (Cannondale), and Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r-La Mondiale), with Costa injuring his wrist and abandoning. At 138 km, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) hit the deck, and although the Olympic road race bronze medalist finished the stage, his status for Stage 2 is uncertain. With about 35 km left, another crash occurred, and Kevin Seeldraeyers (Astana) was among those who became acquainted with the pavement. A few km after that, Viviani crashed. Despite the mishaps, the peloton bore down on the break and trailed by only 1:30 with 35 km remaining.
With 30 km left, Lindeman and Talabardon dropped Sicard, whom the peloton promptly reeled in. Seven km later, the bunch reeled in the break.
BMC drove the peloton, which split when the wind picked up. Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), among others, were caught out. Europcar took command, and the gap widened. (At the stage's end, it would be 1:53.) With two and a half km remaining, Orica-GreenEdge went to the front.
The finish was chaotic, as Orica-GreenEdge did not take full command and riders and teams battled for position. Bouhanni, who had been caught out by the split, was brought to the front by teammates Geoffrey Soupe and William Bonnet. Bouhanni found Sylvain Chavanel's (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) wheel and charged into the lead from a long way out. Petacchi set out after the Frenchman but could not catch him. Viviani closed furiously to take third.
Overall, Bouhanni leads Gaudin and Chavanel by 0:01. Stage 2 of the 2013 Paris-Nice will be a flat, 200.5-km run from Vimory to Cerilly. A sprinter should win. Who will it be? Bouhanni? Viviani? Kittel? Boonen? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!