CHANTONNAY, France (AFP) — Steven Tronet (Auber 93) took a sensational victory at the French road race championships on Sunday as sprint favorite Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) crashed at the finish, dashing his hopes for victory along with his plans to race the 2015 Tour de France.
Tronet has never raced for a WorldTour team nor taken part in the Tour de France but he stunned more illustrious opposition to snatch a dramatic victory after 247.4km around the Vendee region.
“For the last month I’ve been telling myself it’s possible. I did everything to win, I really believed in it,” said the 28-year-old Tronet, a professional on second-tier Continental teams since 2007.
“This is my reward, I’ve been struggling for nine years.”
In-form Bouhanni was widely expected to win the race and was ideally placed in the run-in to claim the French title three years after his first national success.
But Bouhanni was taken down in a crash blamed on Anthony Roux (FDJ), who was later stripped of his second-place finish as punishment.
The Cofidis rider was quickly back on his feet, and his participation in the Tour de France was not thought to be in doubt. But he later took to Twitter to say he was out of the race.
“Certainly out of the Tour. Rib cracked or broken… I’ll update soon,” he wrote. “No words to describe my sadness and disappointment.”
Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) was promoted to second with Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) third ahead of a trio of riders who will be expected to challenge for stage wins at next month’s Tour — Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin), Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick-Step) and Thomas Voeckler (Eurosport).