Nacer Bouhanni has won the second stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. The Frenchman made it two in a row in a dash for the line that saw him get the better of Gianni Meersman of Etixx-Quick Step and Philippe Gilbert of BMC Racing.
Mataro to Olot took the rider 178.7km over some slightly less severe climbing compared to yesterday’s stage – although the category 1 climb of Alt de Else Angels would still be a reasonable obstacle. Interestingly though the sprinters would have to fight to have it their way as the road would proceed to ramp up in the finale; potentially providing an Ardennes sort of finish to the race.
The breakaway of the day was made up of four riders in Boris Dron of Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Kamil Gradek of Verva ActiveJet Pro Cycling and two World Tour riders in Maxime Bouet of Etixx-Quick Step and Thomas De Gendt of Lotto Soudal.
The four riders succeeded in making it through both intermediate sprints before the peloton bore down upon them, and with 25km remaining Thomas De Gendt decided that he had better chances by launching a move of his own. He went clear with the peloton getting closer and closer all the time, and eventually it appeared that he realised that his efforts would be fruitless and he was caught with 15km of racing remaining.
From there it would be all about who would line things up for the sprint finish or would it come down to a breakaway effort on the final drag up to the finish? Movistar, Team Sky, Tinkoff and more all tried to unhinge Cofidis, who had done an enormous amount of work on the front of the peloton. With 2km to go it was Team Sky who looked to be in control, but Cofidis rallied well with Nacer Bouhanni surviving the climb and launching off the wheel of teammate Geoffrey Soupe to take his second win in as many days.