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Race leader Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) crashed during stage 2 and abandoned the race.
French champion slides out in turn, sustains cuts to face
Monday was the best day of Nacer Bouhanni's life - the French champion timed his sprint perfectly and came around notable fast men Alessandro Petacchi and Elia Viviani to win the opening stage of Paris-Nice and the honour to wear the race's yellow leader's jersey.
Today, however, the 22-year-old sprinter would not have a chance to battle to keep his race lead: he crashed out of the race with over 50km to go. Luckily, at first examination, it appears that his injuries were limited to facial lacerations and a broken tooth.
Bouhanni was taking a left turn on the outside line near the head of the peloton and lost traction on his front tire, falling chest-first and hitting his face on the pavement.
It spelled the end to his race, and the French champion was taken away in an ambulance.
"For fifteen kilometers he was nervous," said his FDJ teammate Yoann Offredo. "There was a little sand in the turn, he probably turned too quickly and slipped. The shock was violent!"
Bouhanni received stitches to his lip, but was otherwise unbroken.
Italy's Eli Viviani (Cannondale), who picked up an intermediate sprint time bonus as well as a bonus for finishing second on today's stage, moved into the overall lead in Bouhanni's absence.