Nacer Bouhanni has the green light and is not stopping. With Marcel Kittel gone, the Frenchman has collected three stage wins at the Giro d'Italia. Today, he sprinted to win number three in Salsomaggiore Terme.
"If I knew how to beat him, I would've have already tried to do so," Giacomo Nizzolo said. "It's hard to do so, today I tried to get the jump on him by starting early, but Bouhanni continues to win."
Today's Salsomaggiore Terme victory adds to those in Bari and in Frosinone. The 23-year-old of team FDJ has gone three-for-three in the sprint stages since Germany's Kittel abandoned with a fever after the race reached southern Italy from Dublin. Kittel won both of the available sprints beforehand, one in Belfast and one in Dublin.
With Kittel at home, followers hoped that the sprints would be more open to various winners. Instead, Bouhanni appears to be the best of the rest.
"I tried," former pink jersey wearer, Mike Matthews said. "I'm on the same level as Nizzolo, who got the jump on me today."
Italy's Nizzolo of team Trek jumped early and shot ahead of Bouhanni through the final left bend. Bouhanni remounted and won. Matthews, the Aussie in home team Orica, finished directly behind Nizzolo.
"It's not that I'm on another level than my rivals, in fact, I don't underestimate anyone here," Bouhanni said. "I count on my strong team around me. My team-mates are the ones that allow me to win in this fashion."
A crash ruled out many sprinters. With 750 metres left of the 173-kilometres stage from Modena, the cyclists had to negotiate a sharp right had turn. Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) with his front wheel seemingly overlapped the rear wheel of Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida). He fell with a group of 10 others including Elia Viviani (Cannondale).
Viviani cried as he crossed the finish line a few minutes later. The crash ripped his green shorts and jersey. Even so, he spoke highly of his French rival.
"He who doesn't make a mistake wins," Viviani said. "He deserves it. He was well placed ahead of that dangerous corner and came out ahead of the crash."
The wins put Buonhanni on the Grand Tour scoreboard. He raced the Tour de France and Vuelta a España already, but in Italy, he took his first wins. He said, "It was very special to get that first one in Bari."
Sprint fans will likely have to forget about him in the Tour de France and look forward to the battles between Kittel, Mark Cavendish and André Greipel. FDJ will select its Tour de France team 10 days beforehand, mostly based on the French national championships. French insiders say that with Arnaud Démare also aiming for a spot, it will be difficult for Nacer to race the Tour de France.
Peloton neutralise the race because of wet conditions in Bari, before Frenchman survives chaotic final kilometres and a puncture to
French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) takes his second stage victory at this year's Giro d'Italia as Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) keeps
Cadel Evans avoids late crash to stay in maglia rosa
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