Paris-Nice: Nacer Bouhanni takes lead with stage one win as Geraint Thomas goes fifth
Nacer Bouhanni recovered from a crash to win stage one of Paris-Nice and take the overall lead of the race.
Last Updated: 09/03/14 5:41pm
The FDJ rider fell early in the 162.5km day but was fit enough to sprint to victory in Mantes-la-Jolie ahead of second-placed John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) and Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) in third.
With bonus seconds taken into account, he now leads the general classification by one second from Meersman, with Degenkolb three seconds further back in third.
Britain's Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) has moved into fifth overall, nine seconds behind Bouhanni, after picking up one bonus second at an intermediate sprint.
However, a selection of big names - including Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), Thor Hushovd (BMC), Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) - lost 1min 9sec on the stage after finding themselves on the wrong side of a split in the peloton caused by a crash around 20km out.
One of a plethora of incidents on an accident-strewn day, it fractured the main bunch into three and with the likes of Thomas, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) all safely in the lead group, they pushed hard to ensure they gained an early march on their rivals for overall victory.
As well as crashes, bonus seconds also played a key role in the day. With the breakaway comprising of just one rider, Christophe Laborie (Bretagne-Seche Environnement), the two intermediate sprints consequently offered the yellow jersey hopefuls an opportunity to grab potentially vital time.
Laborie took a maximum three seconds at the first intermediate, with Meersman and Thomas first over the line in the peloton to take two and one second respectively.
Meersman then won the second intermediate sprint to pick up three more seconds, to which he added another four by sprinting to third on the stage.
Earlier in the day, Tejay van Garderen (BMC) abandoned the race with stomach problems.
Stage one result
1 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ, 3:53:11
2 John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano, same time
3 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
4 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar, st
5 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp, st
6 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar, st
7 Luca Wackermann (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
8 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing, st
9 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cannondale st
10 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana, st
16 Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky, st
32 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida, st
35 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, st
126 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar, 1:09
131 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, st
1 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ, 3:53:01
2 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +1sec
3 John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano, +4
4 Greg van Avermaet (Bel) BMC, +8
5 Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky, +9
6 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling, st
7 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar, +10
8 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp, st
9 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar, st
10 Luca Wackermann (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st