Frenchman William Bonnet defied expectations in the Paris-Nice bunch sprint on stage two to Limoges, handing his Bouygues Telecom team its biggest victory since last year's Tour de France when it took home two stage wins. It was an important step in his 6th year as a professional, not the least of which is his team's uncertain future.
For the relatively unknown sprinter from Vierzon, today was his first victory since the 2008 GP of Isbergues when he was declared winner over Wesley Sulzberger who was riding a trainee at Française des Jeux.
Bonnet has missed out on the past two campaigns for the Spring classics due to knee problem for which he underwent surgery. He's clearly shown today that he is back in business after besting Slovakian phenomenon Peter Sagan by no more than 5 centimetres.
"I hope this is the start of a good series," Bonnet commented. "When we aren't used to winning anymore, it's a vicious circle. We get used to staying in the waiting room." As he brought his first success to Bbox Bouygues Telecom, he mentioned that he wasn't born a winner. "I blossomed as a worker for Thor Hushovd [with Credit Agricole] and I wouldn't mind to ride for him again."
Confronted with the proliferation of trains for sprinters, Bonnet admits that his team can't match the trains of HTC-Columbia, Sky or Garmin-Transitions. "Sincerely we don't have the level for competing against these guys and I'm the only sprinter at Bouygues. With Hushovd, we had a train but it was still a slow one although we had Jimmy Engoulvent, Julian Dean, Mark Renshaw and myself for the job."
Bonnet finds another less fortunate similarity between his last year at Crédit Agricole and this year at Bouygues: the team manager is seriously looking for a sponsor to replace the current one at the end of the season.
"Jean-René Bernaudeau is the person working on it, not us, as riders, we can only do our job the best we can", the 28 year old said. "Of course it doesn't hurt when we win a race like today, but Crédit Agricole had their best season ever in 2008 and no sponsor came in. I have in mind that this can happen again here, that's why without being selfish I have to produce personal results if I'm again in the situation of looking for a new team later this year.
"I don't want to be focusing only on sprints. I'll have a go at the Classics. I'll ride Milan-San Remo, Waregem, Harelbeke, De Panne, Tour of Flanders, Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix. I know that I can do well in Roubaix. I'm built for that."