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AFP / Yuzuru Sunada
Sprint specialist Nacer Bouhanni ended a three-year drought for French cyclists in the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday as he won the 112-kilometer fourth stage from Giovinazzo to Bari. The FDJ.fr rider recorded his first ever stage win in a major Tour and becomes the first Frenchman since John Gadret in 2011 to prevail on the Giro.
Bouhanni, 23, joined the leading group 9km from the line and overcame a puncture on the penultimate lap around Bari to sprint to victory ahead of Italy’s Giacomo Nizzolo and Dutch rider Tom Veelers. Australia’s Michael Matthews retained the overall leader’s pink jersey. Organizers meanwhile decided not to allocate bonus times on the final 8.3km lap around Bari because of the dreadful weather.
“The riders’ safety comes first,” said Giro director Mauro Vegni.
“Roads in the south are very slippery when it rains,” added veteran Italian Luca Paolini.
Bouhanni’s task had been made significantly easier when Germany’s Marcel Kittel, who had won two of the first three stages in sprint finishes, was unable to start the stage because he was running a fever.
“I am very disappointed about leaving the Giro after such a strong start in good condition, but I do not feel healthy and I am not in the position to start the race in this condition,” said Kittel, who rides for the Giant-Shimano team.
“I want to thank my team for their support these past few days and wish them the best of luck for the rest of the race.”
Wednesday’s fifth stage covers 203km between Tarente and Viggiano, concluding with a 5km climb.
Giro d’Italia Stage 4
1. Nacer Bouhanni (FRA/FDJ) 2:22:06
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA/TRE) @ s.t.
3. Tom Veelers (NED/GIA)
4. Roberto Ferrari (ITA/LAM)
5. Elia Viviani (ITA/CAN)
6. Matteo Montaguti (ITA/ALM)
7. Kenny Dehaes (BEL/LTB)
8. Luka Mezgec (SLO/GIA)
9. Bert de Backer (BEL/GIA)
10. Francesco Chicchi (ITA/NRI)
General Classification After Stage 4
1. Michael Matthews (AUS/ORI) 12:28:43
2. Alessandro Petacchi (ITA/OPQ) at 0:08
3. Daniel Oss (ITA/BMC) 0:10
4. Ivan Santaromita (ITA/ORI) 0:14
5. Pieter Weening (NED/ORI) @ s.t.
6. Luke Durbridge (AUS/ORI)
7. Svein Tuft (CAN/ORI)
8. Serge Pauwels (BEL/OPQ) 0:19
9. Rigoberto Uran (COL/OPQ) @ s.t.
10. Julien Vermote (BEL/OPQ)