Tour de Wallonie: Nacer Bouhanni sprints to opening stage victory
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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tour de Wallonie: Nacer Bouhanni sprints to opening stage victory

by Ben Atkins at 4:02 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 
New French champion takes third victory in a month after a day of breakaways

nacer bouhanniNacer Bouhanni (FDJ-BigMat) continued his recent winning streak with a sprint victory in the opening stage of the Tour de Wallonie, between Tournai and Lessines. The recently crowned French champion, who would celebrate his 22nd birthday in four days time, outsprinted former Dutch champion Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Italian Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack-Nissan) at the end of the largely flat 159.7km stage around south western Belgium.

The first half of the stage was peppered with attacks, as groups of various sizes broke clear of the peloton, but none was able to get established. Finally though, at the midway point, Davy Commeyne (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), Kévin Van Melsen (Accent Jobs-Willems Vérandas) managed to get away, and were joined by Lloyd Mondory (AG2R La Mondiale).

As the peloton sat up, the three breakaway riders were able to build a lead that reached a maximum of 4’23” with 60km to go. They were steadily closed down by the sprinters’ teams however, with Belgian champion Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) putting in big turns on the front of the peloton, to test his recovery from recent rib injury/

With ten kilometres to go, and with the peloton on their heels, Mondory attacked and tried to go solo, but he was quickly closed down and caught with nine to go. The sprinters’ teams then battled for the head of the peloton, with Team Sky, Garmin-Sharp, FDJ-BigMat and Omega Pharma-Quick Step all present in numbers.

At the finish though, it was Bouhanni that was the fastest, taking his third victory in just over a month. The French champion took the first leaders jersey of the race, with Van Melsen earning enough bonus seconds to put him into second place.

Result stage 1
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ-BigMat
2. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan
4. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
5. Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis
6. Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Acqua e Sapone
7. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
8. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Accent Jobs-Willems Vérandas
9. Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ-BigMat
10. Adam Blythe (GBr) BMC Racing Team

Standings after stage 1
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ-BigMat
2. Kévin Van Melsen (Bel) Accent Jobs-Willems Vérandas @ 3s
3. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM @ 4s
4. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale @ 5s
5. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan @ 6s
6. Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony @ 7s
7. Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator @ 8s
8. Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC Racing @ 9s
9. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 10s
10. Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis

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