The 23-year-old Frenchman from FDJ.fr claimed line honours again in Tuesday’s stage 10 between Modena and Salsomaggiore-Terme, bursting past Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory) and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) to win.
Bouhanni (220 points) also triumphed in stages four and seven and has moved 24 points clear of Nizzolo at the top of the sprinters’ standings.
Nizzolo has finished second behind Bouhanni in his rival’s three stage victories – and was bumped back to third when the Frenchman claimed second on stage two behind Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) – and the Trek rider was left frustrated after he attempted to win from the front in Salsomaggiore-Terme.
“I tried to anticipate because I thought today might be the right time and that final climb might take a little something from Bouhanni’s legs but instead it didn’t go like that,” Nizzolo told Cyclingnews.
“When you can see the finishing banner coming up in front of you, you always believe in your chances, but obviously, I faded a little bit after that and he made up the ground.
“Nothing – it’s another second place, now let’s look ahead.”
Bouhanni has never won a sprint title at a grand tour but, with Kittel and Matthews having pulled out of the Giro due to illness and injury respectively, the FDJ.fr rider is running out of rivals for the red jersey.
Matthews was withdrawn from the Giro following the 10th stage with the Australian fifth in the sprinters’ standings with 124 points.
Stage 10 involved a crash in the final kilometre, which saw Garmin-Sharp’s sprinter Tyler Farrar collide with Cannondale’s Elia Viviani and plenty of other cyclists fall.
Viviani (151 points) sits fourth in the sprint classification, 69 points adrift of Bouhanni, with third-placed Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) five points closer.
After a tough day, which started with a fever and ended with a crash, Viviani remained bullish about his chances of reeling in Bouhanni; although he conceded the Frenchman was riding very well.
“If I started today with a 38-degree fever, a crash won’t end my Giro,” Viviani told Italian television.
“I think Bouhanni is beatable but he’s not making mistakes and if you don”t mistakes you win.”
Nizzolo believes there are three stages remaining in the Italian grand tour which could end in a sprint finish, but he remains unsure how to beat Bouhanni.
“I don’t know. If I knew that, I’d have won,” Nizzolo said.
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