Bouhanni Sprints to Victory at Vuelta a Espana
Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) has won Stage 2 of the Vuelta a Espana. The Frenchman took a bunch sprint to snare the flat, 174.4-km run from Algeciras to San Fernando in 4:01:30. John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) finished second, and Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) finished third. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) has taken the red jersey from teammate Jonathan Castroviejo.
Heat and wind greeted the riders at the start. Francisco Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka), Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida), and Romain Hardy (Cofidis) made an early escape. The Movistar-led bunch kept the quintet on a short leash, and the fugitives’ advantage maxed out at about five minutes.
FDJ.fr and Giant-Shimano joined Movistar at the front and slowly reeled in the break. At one point, a crash took down Fabio Felline (Trek), Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Belisol), and Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhubeka), but all remounted and rejoined the peloton.
With 30 km remaining, the escape’s lead was down to 0:30. The catch was made 14 km later.
Cannondale, Giant-Shimano, and FDJ.fr went to the front. Tinkoff-Saxo Bank, Sky, Katusha, and BMC joined these squads at the front to keep their general classification men out of trouble. At one point, the pace split the peloton, but the bunch reformed. With five 90 degree turns in the last three km, including three in the last km, the sprinters’ teams battled for position.
FDJ.fr had the best position as the peloton came off of the last turn. The French squad formed a flawless leadout train, and Bouhanni made his move with 200 m left. Degenkolb attempted to close the gap, but the German never had a chance. The Frenchman won by more than a bike length.
Bouhanni wanted to win a stage as early as possible in the race. “It was my goal to win a stage as soon as possible to take pressure off my FDJ.fr team,” the Frenchman said. “We’ll be more relaxed from now on. It’s important….I knew the form was coming. If there are other opportunities to win at the Vuelta, I’ll go for it.”
In the overall, Valverde leads teammates Nairo Quintana and Amadey Amador. Stage 3 could produce a new race leader. The hilly, 197.8-km ride from Cadiz to Arcos de la Frontera will see the riders pedal away from the Spanish warship Juan Carlos I and over about 80 km of flat roads before they tackle four Category 3 climbs in the next 60 km. They will take on an uncategorized ascent before the uphill finish. This stage will resemble a classic, and a classics man should win it. Who will it be? Degenkolb? Peter Sagan (Cannondale)? Cadel Evans (BMC)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!