Nacer Bouhanni says his fast return to victory at the Volta a Catalunya will go some way to making up for the disappointment of losing any chance of winning Milan-San Remo on Saturday. But only up to a point.
Bouhanni's mechanical in the final metres of Milan-San Remo left the one-time boxer out for the count in the bunch sprint which decided la Primavera, and the sense of frustration at losing the race through no fault of his own was so great he subsequently almost opted to miss out on the Volta a Catalunya as well.
Instead, as the French fastman stormed past Britain's Ben Swift (Team Sky) to take the bunch sprint win at Calella by over a bike length on Monday, the Cofidis sprinter's last-minute decision to stick to his original race program and race the Volta must have felt amply justified.
"It's great to have this win and the Volta is a great race, but it doesn’t make up for the disappointment of San Remo," Bouhanni said afterwards. "It's true I considered not coming and sending my bikes back home."
He had, he said, "barely slept for the last two days" because of the disappointment of Sanremo. "At 150 metres from the line, I couldn't do my sprint, my chain jumped and it was all over. It was a nightmare."
However, Bouhanni's debut in the Volta a Catalunya could not have gone better, particularly as the stage was in no way straightforward, with a lengthy incursion into the hills prior to the bunch sprint finish. "It was a very hard finish as we saw today, but we worked well with Movistar on the last big climb," he said. "There are maybe three or four opportunities for me in total, including tomorrow [Tuesday] and we'll work in all of them as best we can."
In the process, his pain of losing San Remo within sight of the finish may dull a little.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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