Nacer Bouhanni dreaming of winning Paris-Tours in the tricolore
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Saturday, October 06, 2012

Nacer Bouhanni dreaming of winning Paris-Tours in the tricolore

by Ben Atkins at 12:31 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Fall Classics, Paris-Tours
 
French champion taking aim at the Sprinters’ Classic

nacer bouhanniNacer Bouhanni (FDJ-BigMat) is looking to end his season in style, with victory in tomorrow’s Paris-Tours. The race, known as “the Sprinters’ Classic” - as well as sharing the nickname “the Race of the Falling Leaves” with the Giro di Lombardia - may have officially lost some of its status in recent years, but victory in the race carries no less prestige; particularly for a Frenchman.

"Paris-Tours motivates me especially!” he told the Republicain Lorrain. “I’ve been thinking about this race since the beginning of the season.”

Although the race is the big event at the close of the French season, the local riders have had very little fortune on its iconic Avenue de Grammont finish line, with only two French winners in the last 56 years. The last French winner of the race was Bouhanni’s veteran former teammate Frédéric Guesdon - who was also the last Frenchman to win Paris-Roubaix.

What Bouhanni hopes to do is become the first rider to win the Sprinters’ Classic dressed in the jersey of French champion since the great Francis Pélissier in 1921.

The French champion will have the full FDJ-BigMat team at his disposal, including 2011 World under-23 champion Arnaud Démare.

"This will be the case for the next two races, he told the Republicain Lorrain before the start of Thursday’s Paris-Bourges. “Last week, in the Eurométropole Tour [Circuit Franco-Belge], the team worked really well and there are only small adjustments to make for Sunday.”

Including his French championship, Bouhanni has taken seven victories so far this season, but has also been condemned to nine second places - of which Paris-Bourges was the latest. The rider that has been his most recent regular vanquisher is Argos-Shimano’s German sprinter Marcel Kittel, but it will be Kittel’s teammate John Degenkolb - who denied Bouhanni so often in the Vuelta a España - that will be his main rival for success in Sunday’s race.

Despite being known as a race for sprinters however, many of the recent editions of the race have been taken by breakaway riders, including last year’s winner Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing). With the race’s start moving east to Châteauneuf-en-Thymerais though, the course has a more north-south route than its usual east-west; weather forecasts are also predicting a headwind for the final stretch into Tours, a sprint looks more likely this year.

FDJ-BigMat team for Paris-Tours
Sébastien Bergeret, Nacer Bouhanni, Mickaël Delage, Arnaud Gérard, Arnold Jeannesson, Geoffrey Soupe, Benoît Vaugrenard and Arthur Vichot

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