Nationale Sluitingprijs victory hands Bouhanni UCI Europe Tour victory

Frenchman ends debut Cofidis season with 11 victories

Nacer Bouhanni's 11th win of the season Nationale Sluitingprijs - Putte-Kapellen ahead of Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo) sealed victory in the UCI Europe Tour for the Cofidis rider ahead of Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise). The 25-year-old had moved into the lead of the rankings after his second placed finish at Paris-Bourges last week but having missed out at Paris-Tours on Sunday, the final race on the European calendar would decide the winner.

A bike throw from Bouhanni at the end of the 195km race and Thuens' fourth place saw the Frenchman finish with 721 points to 649.

"You can't finish your season in a better way than with a victory," Bouhanni told Het Nieuwsblad. "Besides, I'm now sure of the overall victory in the UCI Europe Tour. That was an objective."

Bouhanni explained he was kept calm and safe from his team who then positioned him perfectly for the sprint after the nine-man breakaway had been reeled in and the late attack from extinguished with two kilometres to go Dimitri Claeys (Verandas Willems).

"Everything went smoothly today. The teammates made ​​sure that no one could get there way in the final kilometres. Then I could finish it off in a bunch sprint," Bouhanni said.

"I was positioned very well by Adrien Petit, Michael Van Staeyen and Kenneth Vanbilsen in the finale. They dropped me off in the wheel of Debusschere. With the headwind, I waited for the 150 meters to go mark to mark my effort. Then it was decided with a bike throw against Van Asbroeck."

While Bouhanni was unable to match the three Giro d'Italia and two Vuelta a Espana stage wins of last season, he finishes the year with two stages and the points classification from the Critérium du Dauphiné, two stages wins at the Tour de l'Ain and Circuit Cycliste Sarthe - Pays de la Loire and five one-day victories. Bouhanni explained to Het Nieuwsblad that while he enjoyed success this season moments such as his crash at the French nationals, his Tour de France ending crash and Vuelta withdrawal leave him unsure just how to judge his first year in the red of Cofidis.

"I had some pressure because I really wanted to win the European Tour. It's great to finish with a win. Here I won the European Tour, I also won the Coupe de France, it's nice," he added.

"Last year I crashed once. This year, nine times in three or four months: it's a lot. It was a season in which I was not spared from bad luck. Several times, too many, I was on the ground. I have mixed feelings about the 2015 season."

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