Nacer Bouhanni has said he’s “not a thug” after the incident with Jake Stewart in a recent French one-day race.
Bouhanni was disqualified from Cholet-Pays de la Loire last week, after he forced Groupama-FDJ rider Stewart into the barrier at high-speed during the sprint finish.
British sprinter Stewart was able to stay upright but suffered a broken hand in the incident, as the UCI later released a statement condemning Bouhanni’s actions.
The incident has also been referred to the UCI Disciplinary Commission, with Arkéa-Samsic rider Bouhanni facing a potential ban for dangerous sprinting.
In a recent interview with Rouleur, 21-year-old Stewart said his life “flashed before his eyes” as he hit the barriers.
After initially apologising to Stewart, Bouhanni has shared another statement on social media, saying “if he really saw his life flash like he said in that interview, I would advise him to give up sprinting.”
Bouhanni, 30, said: “You can say I’m a sprinter who takes risks, who doesn’t give up his position, who’s aggressive, who does everything to win… You can say anything you want, but to throw me into the barriers for trying to win a cycling race, that’s pure madness.
“Actively wanting to injure someone and put my rival’s life at risk as well as my own, that’s crazy talk.”
“I’m not a thug. I’m a sportsman who became a father a few months ago, so believe me that, if only for my child, I would never take such risks consciously. I just wanted to win the race. Unfortunately it ended badly. But in this misfortune there is a lot of luck because in reality disaster was avoided.”
Bouhanni added: “Concerning Jake Stewart, he is young and he will do other sprints – for a long time, I hope. If he really saw his life flash like he said in that interview, I would advise him to give up sprinting.”
Sprinter safety has become a headline issue after Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) was banned from racing for nine months by the UCI, after he pushed Fabio Jakobsen into the barriers on stage one of the Tour of Poland last year.
Jakobsen suffered serious facial injuries and has undergone multiple operations.
The Dutchman intends to return to racing this year, while Groenewegen will race again in May at the Tour of Hungary.