Bouhanni wins stage two in Spain

Sun Aug 24, 2014 1:46pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - France's Nacer Bouhanni surged to the line to claim the second stage honors at the Tour of Spain on Sunday, holding off a late burst by Germany's John Degenkolb.

With favorites Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador looking to avoid trouble in a challenging finish to the flat 174.4-km ride from Algeciras to San Fernando, FDJ.fr's Bouhanni held off Giant's Degenkolb and Italian Lampre-Merida rider Roberto Ferrari in a sprint.

Spain's Alejandro Valverde took the leader's red jersey.

In the absence of Mark Cavendish, Bouhanni is arguably the strongest sprinter in the race and he showed his superiority in San Fernando.

"We worked very hard for this," Bouhanni told reporters.

"We found ourselves in a great position and this is a great day for me and my whole team. We have to take our chances when we can and each time I have a chance I will take it.

"Maybe I can win a couple of stages and I will aim for the points jersey."

Francisco Aramendia, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Romain Hardy and 21-year-old Valerio Conti, who replaced last year’s winner Chris Horner in Team Lampre-Merida, broke clear around the hour mark and maintained their lead until the final 20 km.

The sprinters moved to the fore with the IAM Cycling, Lotto Belisol and Giant-Shimano teams at the front of the peloton but Bouhanni went away early and made it over the line first with Degenkolb close behind.   Continued...