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VILLARS-LES-DOMBES, France (AFP) — Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni, riding for Cofidis, turned in an explosive burst of power as he sprinted to victory in the second stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné on Monday following a 173km ride from Le Bourget-du-Lac to Villars-les-Dombes.
Twenty-five-year-old Peter Kennaugh, who won the opening stage, retains the leader’s jersey after finishing with the main pack.
Another Frenchman, Samuel Dumoulin, was second. Italian Sacha Modolo, a winner of two stages on the recent Giro d’Italia, claimed the final place on the podium.
“I’m really happy for the Cofidis team, it was a great win and I’m very happy,” said Bouhanni.
“The conditions were ideal, I really counted on my teammates who did a great job and I’m really super happy and it’s a great relief.”
“I’ve cut my season in three sections, first the Paris-Nice, then the Classics (Milano-Sanremo and Gent-Wevelgem), then the Dauphine, the French championships and Tour de France, and finally the world championships,” added Bouhanni.
“For the Tour [de France], the Dauphine is the ideal preparation. At the end of the week, I will be amongst the climbers for the mountain stages which will get me into shape.”
Kennaugh, who rides for the Sky team led by former Tour de France champion Chris Froome, maintains a two-second lead in the overall standings over Modolo and Bouhanni on a day suited for a sprint finish.
Defending Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and 2013 winner Froome, two of the main contenders for the overall victory, finished in the main bunch and are well positioned behind Kennaugh.
A three-man escape formed during the stage with Frenchmen Arnaud Courteille and Perrig Quemeneur as well as Daniel Teklehaimanot of Eritrea building up a lead of seven minutes before eventually being reeled in by the peloton with 3km to race.
In a bunch sprint for the line, Bouhanni negotiated his way through the pack of riders bidding for victory and sprinted clear for a well-deserved win.
The 24-year-old Bouhanni shot to fame in 2014 when he won three stages on the Giro d’Italia and won the points jersey.
Tuesday features a team time trial over 24.5km between Roanne and Montagny, with the race set to finish on Sunday.