Bouhanni tops Petacchi to win 1st Paris-Nice stage
NEMOURS, France (AP) - Nacer Bouhanni of France overtook Italian veteran Alessandro Petacchi in a sprint to the line Monday to win the first stage of the Paris-Nice race.
Bouhanni passed Petacchi in the last 100 meters, completing the flat 121-mile ride from Saint-Germain-en-Laye to Nemours in 4 hours, 47 minutes, 24 seconds. Italian sprinter Elia Viviani finished third in the same time.
Bouhanni took the yellow jersey from countryman Damien Gaudin, winner of Sunday's short prologue. Gaudin remains second overall ahead of Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel.
"To be able to wear the yellow jersey on the Paris-Nice is huge,'' Bouhanni said. "A lot of people spoke to me about Paris-Nice. I was very much in demand and I knew people were expecting a lot from me. Winning the first stage will be liberating for me.''
Marcel Kittel of Germany and Tom Boonen of Belgium were among the pre-stage favorites, but they were left behind when the pack split with 12 miles to go.
Rui Costa of Portugal, winner of last year's Tour de Suisse, pulled out after hurting his left wrist following a crash. Pierrick Fedrigo of France also withdrew during the stage after failing to shake the flu.