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Less than 24 hours after his big crash, Bouhanni bounced back by winning the bunch sprint on the morning stage at the Tour du Poitou-Charentes and reclaiming the lead; Napolitano was second, Demare third

Photo: A.S.O.

ARNAUD DEMARE

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DANILO NAPOLITANO

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NACER BOUHANNI

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TOUR DU POITOU-CHARENTES

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25.08.2016 @ 16:59 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

For the second time in a few days, Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) bounced back from disappointment when he came out on top in the bunch sprint on the morning stage of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes. Less than 24 hours after his big crash on stage 2, the Frenchman beat Danilo Napolitano (Wanty) and arch-rival Arnaud Demare (FDJ) in the final dash to the line and after race leader Rom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo) had hit the deck in the sprint, it was enough to reclaim the race lead.

 

Two days ago Nacer Bouhanni bounced back from huge disappointment when he won the first stage at the Tour du Poitou-Charentes. 48 hours earlier he had missed out in his first big classics win when he was relegated for irregular sprinting at the EuroEyes Cyclassics but he showed great mental strength by taking his first win since the Dauphiné in the strong sprint field in France.

 

After the stage, Bouhanni said that it is part of his character to always come back and today he proved that again. Yesterday he crashed hard in the finale of the second stage but today he bounced back again as he won the bunch sprint in the morning stage on the busy third day of the French race.

 

After two days for the sprinters, the riders faced a busy day with two stages. In the morning they covered 95.2km between Thure and Chatellerault and did three climbs – 1km at 7%, 1km at 7% and 800m at 6%. The final ascent came with 39.7km to go and then the stage ended with one lap of a flat 16.7km circuit.

 

It was another sunny but less hot day when the riders gathered for the start. Yauheni Hutarovich (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) broke his collarbone yesterday and was the only non-starter.

 

Unsurprisingly, there were lots of attacks right from the start and surprisingly sprinter Marco Benfatto (Androni) was one of the most active. However, it was Luke Rowe (Sky) and Felix Pouilly (Roubaix) who got the first real advantage but they were soon brought back.

 

The right break was formed when Thomas Spregers (Topsport Vlaandeen), Damien Touze (Auber 93) and Dieter Bouvry (Roubaix) escaped and thyhad a 20-second advantage at the 10km mark. At the bottom of the first climb, it had gone out to 45 seconds and when Touze beat Sprengers and Bouvry in the first KOM sprint, the peloton arrived 2.10 later.

 

LottoNL-Jumbo soon hit the front and they had already reduced the gap to 1.45 after 30km of racing. It even went down to 1.24 but when Touze beat Bouvry and Sprengers in the intermediate sprint, the escapees had increased the advantage to 1.55.

 

As the front group hit the second climb, Bouvry was dropped but he managed to rejoin the group before Springers beat Touze and the Belgian in the KOM sprint. The peloton reached the top 1.50 later, led by Bert-Jan Lindeman and Robert Wagner for LottoNL-Jumbo.

 

Sprengers also beat Touze and Bouvry in the third KOM sprint but the trio was losing ground. Even though LottoNL-Jumbo lost Twan Castelijns who abandoned, they had reduced the gap to just 1.15.

 

With 30km to go, the gap had dropped to just 50 seconds and it even came down to 35 seconds before the trio made their response. With 21km to go, they had pushed their advantage out to 1.05 as it was still Lindeman doing all the work in the peloton.

 

The gap reached 1.10 before Cofidis hit the front but they couldn’t bring the gap down either. At the first passage of the line, it was still 1.15 and this prompted Wilier to take over. The team lined ix riders out on the front and Yonder Godoy soon brought the gap down to a minute.

 

With 8km to go, the gap was still 45 seconds but now it was coming down quickly. At the 5km to go mark, it was 28 seconds, it was 20 seconds 1000m later and with 2.5km to go, the escapees only has 17 seconds.

 

Cofidis lined out their troops in the finale and just before the flamme rouge, they brought the front trio back and then did the perfect lead-put for Bouhanni. The Cofidis sprinter emerged as the fastest and held off Danilo Napolitano and Arnaud Demare to take his second win at the race. Leader Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo) had less luck as he crashed in the finale.

 

With the win, Bouhanni took back the leader’s jersey with a 6-second advantage over Van Asbroeck. He will already be back in the saddle in the afternoon when the riders face the key stage for the GC, the time trial. This year the riders will cover 23km between Saint Saviour and Chatellerault and they are mainly flat. There aren’t many technical challenges either, meaning that it is a day for the big rouleurs.

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