Cycling - Bouhanni takes stage and lead at Paris-Nice

French champion Nacer Bouhanni won the opening stage of Paris-Nice in a bunch sprint finish in Nemours.

Cycling - Bouhanni takes stage and lead at Paris-Nice

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CYCLISME 2013 Paris Nice Nacer Bouhanni

The FDJ rider beat veteran sprinter Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Merida), Elia Viviani (Cannondale) and Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Belisol) to the line at the end of the 195km stage from Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Orica-GreenEdge led the peloton around a sharp left hand turn with 550m to go as they looked to set up the sprint for Leigh Howard but it was Bouhanni, who picked up his first win of the year by pipping Matthew Goss on the final stage of the Tour of Oman, who edged out the Italians by the narrowest of margins.

And in the process he took the leader's jersey from Team Europcar's Damien Gaudin who was the shock winner of Sunday's prologue.

Almost immediately after departing from one of the wealthiest suburbs of Paris, Yannick Talabardon (Sojasun), Romain Sicard (Euskaltel) and Bert-Jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil) attacked.

They built up a 7:05 advantage after 75km but that lead had been greatly reduced when they reached the only climb of the day, the cat. 4 Cote de Buthiers at 119.5km.

The gap had been whittled down to 2:45 with 45km to go and Sicard had returned to the peloton before the other two riders were caught with just over 20km remaining.

A surge in the pace then saw the peloton split and sprinters like Marcel Kittel and Tom Boonen were marooned in the second group and unable to contest the finish in the first road stage of the 2013 World Tour in Europe.

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