Jake Stewart has been ruled out of this year’s Tour of Flanders due to a hand fracture caused by the collision between him and former French champion Nacer Bouhanni at the Cholet-Pays de la Loire on Sunday (March 28).
Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) has had an incredible start to his first full season as a WorldTour rider with some top results, including a second place at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad behind the on-form Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).
The 21-year-old British rider was down to be one of the protected riders at the Tour of Flanders alongside the likes of French and Swiss champions Arnaud Démare and Stefan Küng but a collision with Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic) was enough to end that hope.
A Tweet sent out by Groupama-FDJ said: “Jake Stewart is not able to take part in his 2nd Tour of Flanders on Sunday as he suffers from a fractured left hand due to the collision in the final sprint in Cholet-Pays de la Loire.”
The British rider quoted the Tweet soon after, sharing his disappointment to miss his first chance to ride a Monument.
“We thought and was hoping that it was just superficial, but this morning’s x-ray showed a fractured second metacarpal after Sunday’s Cholet-Pays de la Loire. Gutted to say the least to be missing De Ronde this week, but full focus now for recovering and getting back on the bike.”
The collision happened in the closing 200 metres of the race with Elia Viviani (Cofidis) launching his sprint. Stewart had made it onto the Italian’s wheel but Bouhanni reacted quickly to try and get into Viviani’s slipstream, claiming he did not know Stewart was there.
Bouhanni then said he counterbalanced to avoid falling pushing Stewart towards the barriers, which he amazingly managed to avoid, but the impact was enough to cause the fracture.
The Arkéa-Samsic rider has since apologised through a team press release where he said how he was sorry for what happened but that it was not intentional.
The UCI has called for an investigation into Bouhanni to take place to decide what sanctions are needed to be put on the rider.
This comes after a lot of focus has been put on how sprints take place due to the awful crash between Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) with the latter getting a nine-month suspension from racing.