Nacer Bouhanni wins stage four of Paris-Nice; Michael Matthews retains race lead

Cofidis sprinter Nacer Bouhanni sprints clear of Edward Theuns, Andre Greipel and Alexander Kristoff to win stage four of Paris-Nice

Nacer Bouhanni wins stage four of Paris-Nice (Watson)
(Image credit: Watson)

For the second time this week, Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) crossed the line first at Paris-Nice, although on stage four the win wasn't taken away from him.

While he clashed shoulders with Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) and was relegated to third on stage two, the Frenchman had no-one to bump into this time as he sprinted clear of his rivals to win by a comfortable margin in Romans-sur-Isere.

The early break, which included Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie), was caught without a problem - as is the way in such sprint stages - and the fast men's teams battled out the final kilometres.

Katusha worked hard on the front for Alexander Kristoff and Lotto-Soudal looked to set up Andre Greipel.

But it was Cofidis, with Geoffrey Soupe, Cyril Lemoine and Christophe Laporte, who took control of the final kilometres, setting Bouhanni up well for the final sprint.

Trek-Segafredo's Edward Theuns was second on the line ahead of Greipel, with Kristoff finishing fourth. Race leader Matthews secured his yellow jersey by finishing fifth on the stage.

Despite a crash, Geraint Thomas recovered to finish 11th on the stage and retain his fifth place overall. The only change in the top 10 comes as stage one winner Arnaud Démare (FDJ) abandons the race and Tim Wellens moves up to 10th.

Paris-Nice stage four, Juliénas - Romans-sur-Isere (193.5km)

1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, 4-42-29

2. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, st

3. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal, st

4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha, st

5. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, st

6. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky, st

7. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx-Quick Step, st

8. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal, st

9. Youcef Reguigui (Alg) Dimension Data, st

10. Roy Curvers (Ned) Giant-Alpecin, st

Overall standings after stage four

1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, 9-41-50

2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin, at 14 secs

3. Patrick Bevin (NZl) Cannondale, at 19 secs

4. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Movistar

5. Geraint Thomas (GBR) Team Sky, all same time

6. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana, at 24 secs

7. Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling, at 25 secs

8. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff, at 27 secs

9. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC, st

10. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 28s

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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.