Nacer Bouhanni’s stage win in Paris-Nice has given the French sprinter confidence in the run-up to the first Monument of the season, Milan-San Remo
“Was it a revenge for the other day? A little, yes, it did cross my mind in the finale,” said Bouhanni later, “I made a mistake the other day in not closing the door (on Michael Matthews) earlier, I started sprinting from too far out then he bumped my elbow and I lost my balance but…I was disappointed, so yes, this is some revenge for losing that stage.”
Bouhanni had coped with a short second-category climb that saw a gaggle of sprinters out of the back inside the final 30km – Marcel Kittel (Etixx), Dan McClay (Fortuneo), Tyler Farrar (Dimension Data), Wouter Wippert , Dylan Van Barle (both Cannondale) were among the fast men who didn’t make the select group of 97 who fought out the finish.
All of which bodes well for Bouhanni in Milan-San Remo.
“Yes, I was sixth in San Remo last year, which was the first time I had ridden the race and, in fact, the first time I had raced the Classics. This year I think I’m riding better and the team is stronger too, we have a good, united group of riders – it helps when you get results because it strengthens the belief inside the team. There was a lead group of 20 or 25 riders after the Poggio last year and if I had one more rider with me in that situation then I think I can do better.”
After his disqualification two days earlier – which isn’t his first brush with ‘the law’ and race juries – how did he feel about his ‘bad boy’ public image?
“You know, it’s sport, I accept that some people will like me and others won’t and I can’t do anything about that, you just can’t please everyone. In the end? I don’t really care,” he smiled.
However, if his confidence continues to grow and if his Cofidis team rises to the challenge, Bouhanni might be able to gauge what a Classic win – in San Remo – makes to his popularity…