Bouhanni sprints to snow-shortened Catalonia stage win

Cofidis' French cyclist Nacer Bouhanni celebrates as he crosses the finish line winning the fourth stage of the 97th Volta Catalunya 2017, a 194,3 km ride from Llivia to Igualada on March 23, 2017

French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni won the fourth stage of the Tour of Catalonia on Thursday after it was shortened by 60km due to snow.

The 26-year-old beat Italy's Davide Cimolai and Daryl Impey of South Africa in a sprint finish as American Tejay Van Garderen maintained his overall lead.

But treacherous conditions on a long descent meant to start the stage resulted in the day's racing being shortened to just 134km.

A short category two climb near to the finish saw the race explode into life as several overall contenders, including France's Romain Bardet and Alejandro Valverde of Spain, attacked in a hope of gaining some time.

And while most specialist sprinters were dropped from the leading group at that stage, Bouhanni hung on before comfortably winning the sprint.

Spain's Samuel Sanchez remains in second place, 41 seconds behind his BMC teammate, while Britain's Geraint Thomas of Team Sky is third at 44sec.

Three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome is fifth at 49sec.

Friday's 182km fifth stage is likely to be decisive as it finishes with an 8.4km climb to Lo Port de Tortosa at and average nine percent gradient.