The first stage of the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe - Pays de la Loire was bound for a sprint finish and it was Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing) who almost caused an upset on the line. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) continued his winning ways to claim victory but for Nizzolo, it was a sign that he is no longer limited by the collarbone he broke on a training ride in February.
"I am happy because I am back with the sprint feeling - with the adrenaline at the end - but on the other hand when you are second you are always thinking you were so close and you could win," said Giacomo Nizzolo who won Stage 3 of this year's Tour de San Luis.
"The problem was there was a backwind and it was a little bit downhill so the speed was high and for me I needed a bigger gear. Like this, it is hard to overtake the guy who’s in the lead.
"In this case when you start the sprint you have more chance to hold it to the finish, and maybe with a little more headwind, I could overtake him and then win. But it’s okay - when I see back where I was one week ago I can say that I am happy now."
For sport director Alain Gallopin, the day's racing was made less stressful by having rival teams take up the chasing of the day's break.
"FDJ and Europcar controlled the whole day - a breakaway of three guys - we did not have to do anything," said Gallopin. "Then at the end Giacomo had great help from Boy van Poppel. Giacomo was very strong, and it’s nice to see he’s back; there are a lot of sprinters here, the level is very high. To see him like this means we are looking good for the week.
"It’s a good result; I am happy for him. Of course he is a sprinter and when you are a sprinter you are never happy when you take second place – but for me, I'm happy. Tomorrow morning could be another possible sprint, and also more chances during the week, so it is good to see that Nizzolo is back on form."
The race continues with a double stage-day starting with a 88km stage in the morning followed by an afternoon 6.8km time trial.