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Former French champions wins crash-marred bunch sprint to take the first leader's jersey in the Tour du Poitou-Charentes while young Vaubourzeix almost foils the sprinters

Photo: ASO/P.Perreve






27.08.2013 @ 17:34 Posted by Simon Knudstrup

Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) got the Tour du Poitou-Charentes off to a perfect start when the former French champion won the bunch sprint in the 1st stage of the race. Having used his team to reel in an impressively strong Thomas Vaubourzeix (La Pomme Marseille), he avoided a crash in the finale before finally unleashing his immense speed.


Nacer Bouhanni had a very successful first part of the season when he clocked up 4 wins in less than 3 months. Since then he has been unable to add to his tally, partly due to bad luck that forced him to abandon the Tour de France.


Today he finally returned to his winning ways when he won the first stage of the 4-day French stage race Tour du Poitou-Charentes. In a classic sprint stage, the former French champion emerged as the strongest and held off Benjamin Giraud (La Pomme Marseille) and Maxime Daniel (Sojasun) in the final dash to the line.


However, the sprinters had almost been denied by young Thomas Vaubourzeix (La Pomme Marseille) who did a fantastic job to keep the peloton at bay. For a long time, it appeared as though the young Frenchman would take a hugely surprising win but the sprint teams got organized in time and reeled the escapee in with less than 2km to go.


With his win, Bouhanni is also the first leader of the race and he will wear the leader's jersey on tomorrow's second stage which should be another one for the sprinters. The GC is likely to come down to Thursday's evening time trial.


A flat stage

The Tour du Poitou-Charentes is known as a festival for sprinters and time triallists and the race kicked off in its usual fashion with a flat 197,9km stage to Saintes.


The stage got off to an unusual start as it took several kilometres for the first attack to be launched. Jean-Lou Paiani (Sojasun), Mattia Pozzo (Vini Fantini), Philip Lavery (Cofidis), Thomas Vaubourzeix (La Pomme Marseille), Flavien Dassonville (Roubaix) and Marco Minaard (Rabobank) were the first to finally gain some ground but they were reeled in after a short while.


Vaubourzeix continues aggressive racing

Vaubourzeix had big plans for today's stage and so he launched a new attack. Dmitri Le Boulch (BigMat) bridged across while Sebastien Duret (Bretagne) set off in pursuit up the day's first climb. Those three riders combined forces on the descent and were allowed to build up a massive 11-minute lead.


Last year's runner-up Jeremy Roy (FDJ) made a strange attempt to bridge across at a time when the gap was more than 10 minutes but he quickly fell back to the peloton. Finally, Vini Fantini (with Francesco Chicchi) and Orica-GreenEdge (with Brett Lancaster) took responsibility for the chase and started to bring down the gap.


More teams join the chase

Europcar (with Kevin Reza) and Ag2r (with Yauheni Hutarovich and Davide Appollonio) also joined the pursuit and those four teams brought the gap down to 5 minutes. At this point, they left the work to Bouhanni's FDJ team which stabilized the gap for some time.


FDJ upped the pace and brought the gap down to less than 2.30 with 50km to go. Le Boulch had now taken maximum points on all climbs and so he decided to fall back to the peloton.


Vaoubourzeix left alone

When the gap was down to 2 minutes, Duret had also had enough and left Vaubourzeix as the lone leader. The young Frenchman did not want to give up and accelerated a bit, bringing the gap back up to 2.40.


Minaard made an unsuccessful attempt to bridge across while FDJ remained in control off the peloton. Inside the final 20km, the gap was, however, still 2.40 and the peloton was now sensing the danger.


A frantic chase

IAM (with Matteo Pelucchi) and Vini Fantini decided to assist FDJ in the chase but with 10km to go, the gap was still 1.15. When he passed the 5km to go banner, Vaubourzeix was still 55 seconds ahead.


It all became too much for the young Frenchman and when the sprint teams put down the hammer, they reeled him in with less than 5km to go. A crash marred the finish and took out a number of contenders but Bouhanni stayed safe, powering down the finishing straight to take his first win in more than 4 months.



1. Nacer Bouhanni 4.49.49

2. Benjamin Giraud

3. Maxime Daniel

4. Maxime Vantomme

5. Daniel Hoelgaard

6. Rudy Barbier

7. Davide Appollonio

8. Yauheni Hutarovich

9. Kevin Reza

10. Olivier Chevalier


General classification:

1. Nacer Bouhanni 4.49.39

2. Sebastien Duret +0.01

3. Benjamin Giraud +0.04

4. Dmitri Le Boulch

6. Maxime Daniel +0.06

6. Maxime Vantomme +0.10

7. Daniel Hoelgaard

8. Rudy Barbier

9. Davide Appollonio

10. Yauheni Hutarovich


Points classification:

1. Nacer Bouhanni 25

2. Benjamin Giraud 20

3. Maxime Daniel 16

4. Maxime Vantomme 14

5. Sebastien Duret 12


Mountains classification:

1. Dimitri Le Boulch 16

2. Sebastien Duret 7

3. Thomas Vaubourzeix 5


Youth classification:

1. Nacer Bouhanni 4.49.39

2. Dimitri Le Boulch +0.04

3. Maxime Daniel +0.06

4. Daniel Hoelgaard +0.10

5. Rudy Barbier


Teams classification:

1. Ag2r 14.29.27

2. Sojasun

3. Etixx-Ihned

4. Crelan

5. Movistar



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