Eneco Tour: Nacer Bouhanni sprints to victory in Ardoole
Last Updated: 14/08/14 6:25pm
Nacer Bouhanni sprinted to victory on stage four of the Eneco Tour after a large crash had splintered the peloton in Ardooie.
Bouhanni had latched onto Jens Debusschere’s wheel as the 183.3km trek from Koksijde neared its conclusion and rounded the Belgian champion on the closing straight before holding off a late charge from a determined Luka Mezgec.
Only 15-or-so riders contested the sprint after a sizeable pile-up caused carnage at around 250m to go. Stage two winner Zdenek Štybar was the worst affected, face-planting hard after colliding with the barriers, and the Czech champion was taken to hospital as a result of his injuries.
Lars Boom emerged from the melee unscathed, ensuring the Belkin rider retained his four-second lead over Tom Dumoulin at the top of the overall standings.
The race switched from Holland to Belgium during the fourth day of action and Kenneth van Bilsen and Frederik Veuchelen hit out in the day’s initial break.
Once van Bilsen had swept up maximum points in the first intermediate sprint however, he deliberately dropping off the pace and his counterpart was left with the unenviable task of riding solo with 135km still left to race.
The gap spun out to over six minutes, but with FDJ.fr and Belkin active on the front, there was a sense of inevitability and Veuchelen was finally caught with 25km to go.
With three intermediate sprints and bonifications available before the finish, there was plenty of opportunity to pick up time in the closing stages, with Stybar hauling back three seconds and Sep Vanmarcke jumping twice to accumulate four, before the action reached a dramatic finale.
Although the crash would scupper Stybar’s GC chances, Bouhanni avoided the crashes and claimed his ninth win of the season with a typically well-timed kick.