Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) was angry after losing to Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) in the high-speed sprint in Malaga on stage 3 of the Vuelta a España but was happy to have survived a second crash and avoided serious punishment for taking a tow from a team car.
Bouhanni crashed with 43km to go as the peloton began to close down the break of the day. It was his second crash in two days after also going down on stage 2 but he got up and managed to finish second in the sprint behind Sagan after a hectic chase with his teammates.
He escaped with just a 100 Swiss Franc fine for taking a long tow attached to a 'sticky bottle' from his team car.
That lesser punishment spark anger in Italy after Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was disqualified from the race for a tow just 48 hour earlier. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Bouhanni took a tow for 12 seconds as he got up to speed and tried to get back to the peloton. Nibali’s tow was far more blatant, with the Astana team launching him up the road at a much higher speed, but La Gazzetta dello Sport pointed that Cofidis is also a key race sponsor at the Vuelta a España.
Bouhanni vented his anger after crossing the finish but was more reflective after his massage and treatment for his road rash when speaking to l’Equipe.
“I was angry at the finish because I’d made a huge effort to get back on after the crash and that affected the result. I was 1:30 behind but my teammates waited for me and did a great job. Unfortunately we paid for it in the finale,” he explained.
“I’ve had enough crashes for now though… I wasn’t feeling 100% during the stage after my other crash buy to lose by just a dozen centimetres makes me angry.”
Bouhanni denied he has crashed a lot recently, even if crashes cost him a shot at victory in the French national road race championships and forced him to quit the Tour de France during stage five.
“It seems I’ve crashed a lot but it’s just an impression,” he argued. “Before the French national championships I’d only crashed once this season. Since then I’ve gone down five times: at the championships, twice at the Tour de France and now twice here at the Vuelta. And they weren’t lightweight crashes. The problem is that they happened in the big races, the big goals of the season for me and the Cofidis team.”
The Frenchman had identified six possible sprint finishes at the 2015 Vuelta a España, including Tuesday’s uphill finish in Vejer de la Frontera, where he will have to beat Sagan and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), who also excel on fast uphill finishes.
“There’s one less now but the stage for could suit me. It depends on how I feel. I sprinted thanks to my mental strength rather than anything else after the crash. When sprinters manage to stay in a race they only think about the finish line. I know there’s a tough climb with four kilometres to go. I hope to get over it and if I do, then I can perhaps do something.”
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