Nacer Bouhanni times it perfectly to grab first French tricolor
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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nacer Bouhanni times it perfectly to grab first French tricolor

by Kyle Moore at 4:38 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, National Championships
Démare takes second as FDJ-BigMat puts youthful sprinting on display

Nacer BouhanniSurviving an early crash, along with wind and rain blanketing much of Europe, Nacer Bouhanni took an eye-opening win in the French national road race championship, outdueling trade team-mate Arnaud Démare and Adrien Petit (Cofidis) in the fast finale.

The biggest win of the 21-year-old’s short career was his second victory in a week, after he took Halle-Ingooigem on Wednesday. That sprint win was indeed an indication of Bouhanni’s current capabilities, and the Frenchman used a smartly timed finish to come around Démare in the final hundred meters.

“I cannot believe it. I’ve won the French championship and I’m not even 22 years old yet,” Bouhanni gushed to L’Equipe after the race. “In addition, there is also the FDJ-BigMat double. You could not ask for more.

“At the briefing, we had planned to work for Arnaud and me in the sprint. It was ideal conditions in the final. All day [my team-mates] rode to ensure that the sprint would happen. In the end, we managed to have more than one train. Geoffroy Soupe rode for me. I was overwhelmed but I was able to come out of the wheels 150 meters from the line.”

Bouhanni and 115 others out of 173 starters were able to brave the elements for the entire 256 kilometers around Saint-Amand-les-Eaux. The start line was missing one rider however, as Mickaël Delage (FDJ-BigMat) was denied the start due to abnormal blood values. Team manager Marc Madiot said that Delage had been prescribed an inhaler for bronchial issues after the Giro d’Italia, unaware that it could cause an issue.

On course, an 18km circuit was covered 14 times, and to almost no surprise at all, the slashing Alexandre Geniez (Argos-Shimano) was the first to attack. He was unable to escape, and finally after 41km, Sandy Casar (FDJ-BigMat), Christophe Riblon (AG2R-La Mondiale), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Cyril Bessy (Saur-Sojasun), Gaël Malacarne (Bretagne-Schuller), and Gaylord Cumont (Veranda Rideau-Super U) achieved a small gap.

But the gap remained slight, and forty kilometers later, it was gruppo compacto again. Later, a massive 21-man group got off the front, including many from the initial break, and the peloton gave them space this time, and the gap expanded to 2’20”. David Moncoutie (Cofidis) and Sylvain Georges (AG2R-La Mondiale) climbed off as the pace picked up again and the big escape was reeled in. For the next nearly hundred kilometers, other escapees tried the spring the one that may finally stick. But FDJ-BigMat used their super-allotment of nearly 20 riders to control the main bunch, keeping everything within range.

With 30km to race, a scary trio made their bid, as escape artists Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Jeremy Roy (FDJ-BigMat) went away with Laurent Pinchon (Bretagne-Schuller). The move had promise, but eight kilometers later, Pinchon lost his front wheel in the wet and took down Roy with him. The two were unhurt but the move was done, although Chavanel made a brief attempt to go it alone.

As the bunch geared up for the sprint, Saur-Sojasun lost their primary hope for the title, as in-form rider Stephane Poulhiès crashed. Three roundabouts threatened in the final kilometre, but the screaming bunch negotiated them properly.

Into the final thousand meters, William Bonnet (FDJ-BigMat) led Démare and Bouhanni. Démare kicked with 250 meters to go, but Bouhanni was on him, and the “elder” Frenchman came around the 20-year-old Démare to grab his first French title.

Yesterday, Marion Rousse (Vienne Futuroscope) continued the perception that the guard is changing in French cycling, with the shift towards youth seen in the time trial continuing with her victory. The 20 year old outsprinted Julie Krasniak (Lorraine), with Fanny Riberot (Lointek) leading home a ten-woman chase group 22 seconds later. Multiple French champion Jeannie Longo (Rhone Alpes) was last of this selection, netting twelfth.

French road race championships:

1, Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ-BigMat) 5 hours 42 mins 43 secs
2, Arnaud Demare (FDJ-BigMat)
3, Adrien Petit (Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne)
4, Denis Flahaut (Roubaix Lille Metropole)
5, Sébastien Turgot (Team Europcar)
6, Jimmy Casper (Ag2R La Mondiale)
7, Fabien Bacquet (Auber 93)
8, Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team)
9, Julien Simon (Saur-Sojasun)
10, Maxime Le Montagner (Veranda Rideau-Super U)
11, Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne) all same time
12, Saïd Haddou (Team Europcar) at 2 secs
13, Mathieu Drujon (Auber 93)
14, Alexandre Blain (Endura Racing)
15, Justin Jules (Veranda Rideau-Super U)
16, Fabien Schmidt (Roubaix Lille Metropole)
17, Sébastien Hinault (Ag2R La Mondiale)
18, Florian Vachon (Bretagne Schuller) all same time
19, Geoffrey Soupe (FDJ-BigMat) at 5 secs
20, Boris Zimine (Roubaix Lille Metropole) same time


1, Marion Rousse (Vienne Futuroscope) 3 hours 20 mins 26 secs
2, Julie Krasniak (Lorraine) same time
3, Fanny Riberot (Lointek) at 22 secs
4, Christel Ferrier Bruneau (Hitec Products - Mistral Home Cycling Team)
5, Pascale Jeuland (Vienne Futuroscope)
6, Honorine Martin (Ile De France)
7, Kelly Gambier (Ile De France)
8, Marion Azam (Vienne Futuroscope)
9, Béatrice Thomas (Asptt Dijon - Bourgogne)
10, Stéffi Jamoneau (Ile De France)
11, Edwige Pitel (Rhone Alpes)
12, Jeannie Longo (Rhone Alpes) all same time
13, Emmanuelle Merlot (Vienne Futuroscope) at 27 secs
14, Eléonore Saraiva (Champagne Ardenne) at 32 secs
15, Eloise Bec (Midi Pyrenees) at 34 secs
16, Amélie Rivat (Vienne Futuroscope) at 45 secs
17, Manon Souyris (Vienne Futuroscope)
18, Julie Bresset (Bretagne)
19, Aude Biannic (Bretagne)
20, Charlotte Bravard (Team Gsd Gestion) all same time


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