French champion Nacer Bouhanni, riding for FDJ, won the opening stage of the Paris-Nice on Monday, taking the 195km race from Saint-Germain-en-Laye to Nemours in a sprint finish. The 22-year-old won a frantic race to the line and just edged Italian duo Alessandro Petacchi and Elia Viviani as he also took the overall leaders yellow jersey. Compatriot Daniel Gaudin who won Sunday's prologue relinquishes the race
lead after Bouhanni picked up a 10sec bonus for winning the stage and is classified above Viviani after bettering the Italian by .18 seconds in the opening time-trial.
"The team did a great job for me," beamed Bouhanni, who also picked up a stage win on the Tour of Oman earlier this season. "I am still young and taking part in only my third season as a professional but I think I have grown in experience as well as strategy in the sprints and increasing my power. I feel I have improved in the short climbs over two or three kilometers which allows me to arrive fresher at the finish. I was concentrated on my sprint and didn't tell myself to take the wheel of anyone in particular."
Tuesday's second stage is a 200.5km ride from Vimory to Cerilly with a relatively flat finish that will likely feature another sprint finish.
Paris–Nice Stage 1
1. Nacer Bouhanni (FRA/FDJ) 195km in 4:47:24
2. Alessandro Petacchi (ITA/LAM) @ s.t.
3. Elia Viviani (ITA/CAN)
4. Jens Debusschere (BEL/LTB)
5. Heinrich Haussler (AUS/IAM)
6. Mark Renshaw (AUS/BLA)
7. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP/MOV)
8. Leigh Howard (AUS/ORI)
9. Borut Bozic (SLO/AST)
10. Romain Feillu (FRA/VAC)
General Classification After Stage 1
1. Nacer Bouhanni (FRA/FDJ) 4:51:01
2. Damien Gaudin (FRA/EUC) s.t.
3. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA/OPQ) @ .01
4. Lieuwe Westra (NED/VAC) @ s.t.
5. Elia Viviani (ITA/LIQ)
6. Alessandro Petacchi (ITA/LAM) @ .02
7. Wilco Kelderman (NED/RAB) s.t.
8. Geoffrey Soupe (FRA/FDJ)
9. Peter Velits (SVK/OPQ) @ .03
10. Tony Gallopin (FRA/RSH) @ s.t.