Nacer Bouhanni said he would have won Tour de la Provence sprint if he wasn't pushed into barriers by Ballerini

The French sprinter responds after a hectic sprint on the final day of the Tour de la Provence

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Nacer Bouhanni says he is confident that he would have won the final stage of the Tour de la Provence is he wasn't forced into the barriers by Davide Ballerini.

Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic) only managed to take third behind eventual winner, Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious) and Ballerini (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), but said he believes he had the pace to take the win into Salon-de-Provence on Sunday (February 14).

>>> Five things we learned from the 2021 Tour de la Provence

According to cycling website Wielerflits Bouhanni said after the stage: "My arm and front wheel even hit the barriers, otherwise I would have won this last stage."

The former French champion managed two third places in Provence to go with his solid second place at Étoile de Bessèges the week before, as he hopes to start winning against some of the bigger names in sprinting in this season.

Sébastien Hinault, sports director of Arkéa-Samsic, after viewing the images said: "I respect the official's decision not to punish Ballerini, but I am convinced he made a mistake. He started his sprint two meters from the barriers and at the end Nacer cannot put his handlebars between him and the barriers.

"If Ballerini had been relegated, Nacer would have finished second, but without this mistake he would have competed for the win. That is why the disappointment is predominant at the moment. His elbow and wheel hit the fences, but as a sprinter he is not afraid."

Bouhanni has been in a few controversial sprints in his time - one such moment was at the 2016 Paris-Nice when the Frenchman forced yellow jersey Michael Matthews (then Orica-GreenEdge) into the barriers, amazingly avoiding a crash.

Matthews was given the win and Bouhanni was disqualified.

Ballerini said after the stage: "It was not easy to position myself well in the final, but the team did a great job. I was well positioned by Julian Alaphilippe and Zdenek Stybar, but I lacked a little leg strength with ten meters to go. That made the difference."

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.