To those watching the Volta a Catalunya, Nacer Bouhanni’s surging drive up the Avenida des Reis Catolicos in Olot to triumph on stage 2 on Tuesday may well have looked like a near-carbon copy of his equally clear stage 1 bunch sprint victory in the Calle San Jaume in Calella the day before. However, illness made the stage 2 win tougher than it appeared, the Cofidis rider later revealed.
“I was feeling sick during the stage, my stomach hurt,” Bouhanni told a small group of reporters afterwards. “It was tough, but I was able to hold out to the end.”
Bouhanni pointed out that two victories in Catalunya in two days has doubled his personal tally of wins in the season to four – three, although he was modest enough not to highlight the fact, at WorldTour level. Winning was also a good boost to his morale, he said,b ecause they helped stop him from dwelling too much on the huge disappointment of losing any chance of victory in Milan-Sanremo because of a mechanical incident within sight of the line.Or as he put it on Tuesday, “These are important victories, and after what happened in Sanremo it’s been good to concentrate on racing and going for wins on the bike.”
Not that it had been plain sailing on stage two for Bouhanni, for all some fans may have found Tuesday’s scenario of a break of four riders reeled in close to the line, followed by a bunch sprint, an apparently mind-numbingly predictable outcome to the day’s racing.
“At the start of the stage, my stomach hurt, and I had to visit the race doctor. Fortunately I got better during the race and I hope that continues in the days to come,” Bouhanni said.
Bouhanni said the finale, in comparison, was relatively straightforward. “There was a big right-hand around a kilometre and a half to go, and that’s where we started to up the effort. From there on I had been on my leadout man Geoffrey Soupe’s wheel on the ideal position and I could stay with him all the way to the finish.”
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