Bouhanni back on top with Critérium du Dauphiné win
Frenchman gets second part of season off to a great start
Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) took a morale-boosting win on stage 2 of the Critérium du Dauphiné on Tuesday but admitted that he had been below his best during earlier periods of the season.
The Frenchman moved to Cofidis after four years at FDJ, leaving Marc Madiot's team under a cloud when he complained over selection for several major races. Despite being able to pick and choose his calendar – along with the bulk of his leadout train – Bouhanni had only recorded three wins in 2015 until today's triumph at the Parc des Oiseaux Villars-les-Dombes.
"Today was a relief for me and for the team. After four year at being at FDJ it was tough to find a good system here at first. I was close to victory but I can't blame just my teammates. It was me as well who was to blame and I wasn't always at 100 per cent at some races earlier in the season," he said in his winner's press conference.
With a WorldTour win under his belt Bouhanni can start to build towards the Tour de France with a more positive outlook, although work still needs to be done if his leadout is to battle with the likes of Giant Alpecin and Etixx QuickStep in July.
"I had two blocks of objectives this season. The first was based around Paris-Nice and Milan-San Remo and the second starts here at the Dauphine before I do the French road nationals and then the Tour de France.
"I'm getting better and better as I head towards the main targets. Before I came here I had a training camp in the Vosges and that, along with the Dauphiné is all part of the preparation for the Tour. I'll be in the grupetto here for a couple of days but that's good preparation as well."
If Bouhanni is to battle for stage wins in July he will have to take on the best sprinters in the world, many of whom, with all respect to Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R La Mondiale) and Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) – second and third today – are not at the Dauphiné. It's a factor Bouhanni is well aware of but despite his difficulties this season he still possesses the sprinter's natural confidence.
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.