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Former French champion beats Fonseca and Vantomme in the bunch sprint at the end of an extremely tough and aggressive race to solidify his overall lead

Photo: Sirotti

GROUPAMA-FDJ

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NACER BOUHANNI

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TOUR DU POITOU-CHARENTES

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28.08.2013 @ 18:21 Posted by Malte Philbert Jessen

Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) continued his domination of the Tour de Poitou Charentes by winning today's 2nd stage of the race. He beat Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne) and Maxime Vantomme (Crelan) to solidify his grip on the leader's jersey on an extremely aggressive and hard day in the French hills.

 

Yesterday Nacer Bouhanni brought a four-month victory drought to an end and now he has got the ball rolling. Today he added another win to his tally when he won the bunch sprint that ended the 2nd stage of the race.

 

It was, however, not your traditional flat sprint stage as numerous climbs and a very aggressive peloton created a very hard and entertaining race. Numerous group were established, only to get reeled in a little later, thus setting up new attacks.

 

Bouhanni's FDJ team did most of the chase work to keep the uncontrollable peloton under control and got the just reward for their effort when Bouhanni beat Armindo Fonseca and Maxime Vantomme in the final sprint. Most of the pure sprinters had been left behind on the tough stage and instead the top was dominated by classics specialists and puncheurs.

 

Having won the two first stages, Bouhanni remains leader in the 4-day French stage race but is unlikely to find himself in a similar position tomorrow night. A 109,4km morning stage for the sprinters is followed by a 22,8km evening time trial that is likely to determine the final overall result.

 

A fast start

The 182km 2nd stage was mostly flat but 5 small categorized climbs offered perfect launch pads for attacks and aggressive racing. While there wasn't much terrain to make a selection, the riders made the most of the few opportunities they had.

 

The start of the race was extremely fast and attacks were launched in both sides of the roads. The first to get a noticeable gap were Gregoire Tarride (La Pomme) and Loic Desriac (Roubaix) but they were quickly reeled in by the chasing peloton.

 

A big group poses a danger

More attacks followed - young Irish stagiaire Philip Lavery (Cofidis) was one of the riders to get involved in the action - but whenever a group had gone clear, some team had missed out and brought it back together.

 

Suddenly, a bigger group had slipped away but that was too dangerous for the FDJ team of overall leader Bouhanni. French champion Arthur Vichot did a big job to chase it down but ended up bridging across on his own. This forced Ag2r into action and the French team brought it back together.

 

More than 50 kilometres covered during the first hour

During the first hour, the riders had covered no less than 50,4km and still no move had gone clear. An unsuccessful attack by Marco Minaard (Rabobank) was  followed by the move that finally appeared to be the right one.

 

Dominique Rollin (FDJ), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Jimmy Engoulvent (Sojasun), Julien Duval (Roubaix) and Laurent Evrard (Wallonie) slipped up the road but Rollin refused to do any work as he was protecting Bouhanni. When he even picked up the bonus seconds, Voeckler refused to do any work either and so the gap quickly fell below a minute.

 

Voeckler attacks

Voeckler attacked and was joined by Rollin which finally was enough to convince Rollin to drop back. Duval, Evrard and Engoulvent rejoined the leader but moments later, it was all back together.

 

Engoulvent, Voeckler and Duval launched an immediate counterattack and this time they were joined by Tom Dernies (Wallonie) and Thomas Rostollan (BigMat). Those 5 riders had built up a 1.40 gap when Bryan Nauleau (Europcar) set off in pursuit.

 

The peloton splits up

That spurred on more riders to follow suit and suddenly, the peloton had split into three group. Cofidis drove a 30-rider front group that contained Roy, Vichot and Fedrigo (FDJ), Rolland, Pichot  and Nauleau (Europcar), Daniel (Sojasun) and Amador (Movistar). Engoulvent was dropped and fell back into that group and a little later Duval followed suit.

 

Beppu (Orica), Roy (FDJ), Houle (AG2R), Herrada (Movistar), Belkov (Katusha), Gautier, Bouyer (Europcar), Poux (Sojasun), Pelucchi (IAM), Colli (Vini Fantini), Gérard (Bretagne), David (Crelan) and Sénéchal (Etixx-Ihned) attacked and joined the front trio but the move was short-lived and with 89km to go, eveything was back together.

 

More attacks

Yury Trofimov (Katusha), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), Paul Poux (Sojasun) and Cyril Gautier (Europcar) made a short-lived attack but Gautier had big plans for the stage. He made an immediate counterattack and drew along David Le Lay (Sojasun), Stefan Denifl (IAM), Eduardo Sepulveda (Bretagne) and Gregoire Tarride (La Pomme) and Loic Desriac (Roubaix).

 

Those 7 riders were allowed to build up a gap that reached almost two minutes but FDJ remained in form control. They got assistance from Movistar and Orica-GreenEdge and the front group was never allowed a bigger gap.

 

The break splits up

On a short steep 13% ramp, Gautier, Tarride and Denifl left their companions behind but only Sepulveda was unable to rejoin, the Argentinean falling back to the peloton. With 20km to go, the gap was only 40 seconds and FDJ were chasing hard.

 

Gautier attacked and left Le Lay and Desriac behind, the duo quickly getting caught by the peloton. It was, however, an impossible mission and with 8km to go, it was back together.

 

Jean-Lou Paiani (Sojasun), Pavel Brutt (Katusha) and Paul Poux (Sojasun) all tried to surprise the sprinters with late attacks but they had no success. It all came down to the expected bunch sprint and Bouhanni showed that he is the fastest rider in the race.

 

Result:

1. Nacer Bouhanni 4.06.54

2. Armindo Fonseca

3. Maxime Vantomme

4. Michael Albasini

5. Oscar Gatto

6. Jean-Luc Delpech

7. Jeremie Galland

8. Omar Bertazzo

9. Francisco Ventoso

10. Davide Appollonio

 

General classification:

1. Nacer Bouhanni 4.49.39

2. Armindo Fonseca +0.14

3. Maxime Vantomme +0.16

4. Thomas Voeckler +0.17

5. Arnaud Gerard +0.18

6. Sebastien Duret +0.19

7. Davide Appollonio +0.20

8. Omar Bertazzo

9. Kevin Reza

10. Jeremie Galland

 

Points classification:

1. Nacer Bouhanni 50

2. Maxime Vantomme 30

3. Armindo Fonseca 20

4. Benjamin Giraud 20

5. Maxime Daniel 16

 

Mountains classification:

1. Dimitri Le Boulch 16

2. Julien Duval 8

3. Sebastien Duret 7

4. Cyril Gautier 5

5. Gregoire Tarride 5

 

Youth classification:

1. Nacer Bouhanni 8.56.23

2. Armindo Fonseca +0.14

3. Davide Appollonio +0.20

4. Omar Bertazzo

5. Daniel Hoelgaard

 

Teams classification:

1. Ag2r 26.50.09

2. Bretagne

3. Sojasun +0.08

4. Europcar

5. Crelan

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