Nacer Bouhanni‘s fractious 2018 season at Cofidis seems to have continued to deteriorate after the French sprinter was reportedly involved in a “violent altercation” with one of the team’s sports directors after a recent race.
French sports newspaper L’Equipe reports that Bouhanni and sports director Roberto Damiani were involved in an altercation on the team bus in front of other riders after the recent Eschborn-Frankfurt one-day WorldTour race, which Bouhanni failed to finish.
The incident apparently took place as Bouhanni voiced his anger over Damiani’s decision not to make the team wait after Bouhanni was dropped, and is the latest in an ongoing conflict between the rider and the team hierarchy since Cédric Vasseur took over from Yves Sanquer as Cofidis’ general manager at the end of 2017.
In March Bouhanni hit out at the team’s decision not to pick him for Milan-San Remo, before the team withdrew him from the Volta a Catalunya after one stage due to “illness”. Vasseur then said that he “wouldn’t enter Bouhanni in a sportive” in a stinging attack on the former boxer’s form, training and attitude at the start of April.
Watch: Tour de France 2018 route guide
Bouhanni is currently racing in the Four Days of Dunkirk where he placed ninth in the opening stage on Tuesday, but sports director Alain Deloeuil says that the 27-year-old still needs to produce a victory if he is to reclaim the faith of the team, staff, and his fellow riders, and to earn selection for the Tour de France.
“I think that he is aware that he has not proved anything this year, that he does not have the credit yet. I also hope that he does not rot the team atmosphere,” Deloeuil said.
“He is part of the team like the others and he has a course of action to follow. I hope he is able to take a win this week. If this is not the case, I do not see how we could count on him for the Tour de France.
“This week is going to be crucial for him and he will have to confirm his form at the Tour of Belgium and the Tour of Luxembourg, because it seems unlikely that he will be at the start of the Critérium du Dauphiné.”