FOLIGNO, Italy, May 16, 2014 (AFP) – French sprint ace Nacer Bouhanni
claimed his second victory of the Giro d’Italia on Friday as Australian
Michael Matthews held on to the race leader’s pink jersey.
Bouhanni handed the French their first win in Italy’s biggest race in three
years after overcoming a late puncture during Tuesday’s rain-hit fourth stage
to triumph at the finish line.
On Friday’s transitional 211km stage, the 24-year-old of the FDJ.fr team
doubled his tally when he left Italian Giacomo Nizzolo and Slovenian Luka
Mezgec with the minor placings. Matthews finished fourth.
After Mezgec had launched the final dash for the finish line, Bouhanni used
a combination of sheer speed and tactical nous to squeeze past the Slovenian
and on towards victory, with Nizzolo finishing runner-up half a wheel behind.
“There was a gap, and I somehow found my way through it,” said Bouhanni.
Despite benefiting from the early exit of German ace Marcel Kittel, who won
two stages in three days before abandoning due to illness, 2012 French
champion Bouhanni’s exploits have prompted praise from retired Italian legend
“He’s the archetypal sprinter, he’s afraid of nothing,” said Cipollini, who
still holds the record of 42 Giro stage wins.
Matthews, a sprint specialist who rides for Orica, leads compatriot Cadel
Evans (BMC), a favorite for overall victory, by 21sec overall ahead of
Saturday’s rolling eighth stage from Foligno to Montecopiolo, which ends after
a 6.4km climb.
Before many of the race’s major climbing difficulties, Evans is in a
favourable position having seen pink jersey rival Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)
crash out of the race with three broken ribs on Thursday.
Evans is a former Tour de France and world champion and his closest rival,
Colombian Rigoberto Uran, is third overall at 1min 18sec behind Matthews.
Result of the seventh stage of the
Giro d’Italia, the 211km from Frosinone to Foligno, on Friday:
1. Nacer Bouhanni (FRA/FDJ.fr) 5hr 16min 15sec, 2. Giacomo Nizzolo
(ITA/TRE) same time, 3. Luka Mezgec (SLO/GIA) s.t., 4. Michael Matthews
(AUS/ORI), 5. Roberto Ferrari (ITA/LAM), 6. Tyler Farrar (USA/GRM), 7. Enrico
Battaglin (ITA/BAR), 8. Boy Van Poppel (NED/TRE), 9. Ivan Rovny (RUS/TIN), 10.
Elia Viviani (ITA/CAN), 11. Tosh Van der Sande (BEL/LTB), 12. Francesco
Chicchi (ITA/NRI), 13. Davide Appollonio (ITA/ALM), 14. Edwin Avila (COL/COL),
15. Ben Swift (GBR/SKY), 16. Leonardo Duque (COL/COL), 17. Julien Vermote
(BEL/OPQ), 18. Sonny Colbrelli (ITA/BAR),19. Rigoberto Uran (COL/OPQ), 20.
Manuel Belletti (ITA/AND) all s.t.
40. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) s.t. … 46. Ivan Basso (ITA/CAN) s.t., 47.
Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) s.t. … 58. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/GRM) s.t. …
180. Svein Tuft (CAN/ORI) at 13min 37sec … 186. Chris Sutton (AUS/SKY)
1. Michael Matthews (AUS/ORI) 29hr 34min 19sec, 2. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) at
21sec, 3. Rigoberto Uran (COL/OPQ) 1min 18sec, 4. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 1:25,
5. Steve Morabito (SUI/BMC) 1:25, 6. Matteo Rabottini (ITA/NRI) 1:25,
7. Ivan Santaromita (ITA/ORI) 1:47, 8. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 1:51, 9. Tim
Wellens (BEL/LTB) 1:52, 10. Ivan Basso (ITA/CAN) 2:06, 11. Nairo Quintana
(COL/MOV) 2:08, 12. Wilco Kelderman (NED/BKN) 2:11, 13. Maxime Bouet (FRA/ALM)
2:11, 14. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 2:11, 15. Diego Ulissi (ITA/LAM) 2:22,
16. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/TRE) 2:24, 17. Michele Scarponi (ITA/AST) 2:28,
18. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/BMC) 2:34, 19. Dario Cataldo (ITA/SKY) 2:36, 20.
Gianluca Brambilla (ITA/OPQ) 2:46
26. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 3:13 … 39. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/GRM) 4:39 …
184. Svein Tuft (CAN/ORI) 55:48 … 186. Cameron Meyer (AUS/ORI) 1:03:40