French turbo Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), who was relegated on Tuesday’s stage after bumping race leader Michael Matthews, took the sprint in Romans-sur-Isère on Thursday’s fourth stage of the 2016 Paris-Nice. It was an exciting counterpoint to Wednesday’s snow-annulled stage, the third cancelled day in the last 25-years. Matthews keeps the yellow for the fifth stage.
— Movistar Team (@Movistar_Team) March 10, 2016
A familiar face was in the day’s breakaway, established after 5-km: Thomas Voeckler (France/Direct Energie), ready to cycle through his repertoire of tortured expressions. However, it was Matt Brammeier (Ireland/Dimension Data) taking the first intermediate sprint of the day and Evaldas Siskevicius (Lithuania/Delko-Marseille) grabbing the maximum KOM points on two Cat. 3’s.
With Etixx, Katusha, Orica-GreenEdge and Cofidis working at the head of the peloton, the catch was inevitable. But Voeckler nabbed the last intermediate sprint and then attacked on the Cat. 2. with 35-km to go. Back in the peloton a crash delayed Geraint Thomas (Great Britain/Sky) and a flat delayed Alexander Kristoff (Norway/Katusha).
The peloton was bleeding sprinters: first Stage 1 winner Arnaud Démare (France/FDJ), and then Marcel Kittel (Germany/Etixx-QuickStep) fell off the pace in the wind. Démare eventually abandoned. Voeckler suddenly had three reinforcements, who left him behind with 20-km remaining.
The new trio fought valiantly to stay away from the Katusha-led peloton, only surrendering with 500-km from the line. Eduard Theuns (Belgium/Trek) opened the sprint first, but Bouhanni stormed around him to achieve vindication.
In a classy move, Matthews came over to congratulate Bouhanni in the interview booth.
— Paris-Nice (@ParisNice) March 10, 2016
2016 Paris-Nice Stage 4
1) Nacer Bouhanni (France/Cofidis) 4:42:29
2) Eduard Theuns (Belgium/Trek) s.t.
3) André Greipel (Germany/Lotto-Fix All) s.t.
44) Antoine Duchesne (Canada/Direct Energie) s.t.
2016 Paris-Nice GC
1) Michael Matthews (Australia/Orica-GreenEdge) 14:24:15
2) Tom Dumoulin (The Netherlands/Giant-Alpecin) +0:14
3) Patrick Bevin (New Zealand/Cannondale) +0:19
51) Antoine Duchesne (Canada/Direct Energie) +1:20