Nacer Bouhanni has found himself in hot water once again after shoving British rider Jake Stewart into the barriers in the sprint finish at Cholet – Pays de la Loire.
As the fast men unleashed their sprints for the line, Stewart began to come around Bouhanni from the left, the Frenchman moving across and sticking out an elbow, pushing Stewart into the barriers.
The 21-year-old somehow remained upright, eventually crossing the line in 29th place as Elia Viviani took his first win since signing for Cofidis in 2020.
Stewart made his feelings clear later that evening, saying he had no idea what Bouhanni had been thinking and that the Frenchman had even come up to him after the race to tell him he had no respect.
“Yo Nacer Bouhanni, I would ask you what you were thinking…but you clearly have no brain cells,” Stewart said on Twitter after the race. “The ironic thing is, you told me I had ‘no respect’ after the finish. Here’s an educational video of what ‘no respect’ looks like…” with Stewart then linking to an overhead shot showing the sprint finish.
Bouhanni was disqualified for the manoeuvre and is yet to comment on the incident. In Arkéa-Samsic’s report of the day’s racing, they said “everything went well for our team until the last 200 meters,” before adding “after having launched Nacer Bouhanni very well, Thomas Boudat finished 8th.”
The incident has caused outrage amongst the cycling community, evoking the Dylan Groenewegen/Fabio Jakobsen affair at the Tour of Poland last year that put the latter in hospital and the former suspended for nine months, many feeling this could have ended similarly had Stewart not managed to remain upright against the odds.
Part of the ire also stems from this being the latest in a long list of incidents on Bouhanni’s rap sheet, having hit Jack Bauer at the 2017 Tour de France and also being accused of having a “violent altercation” with his own sports director Roberto Damiani at Eschborn-Frankfurt in 2018.
Update: the UCI have issued a statement condemning Bouhanni’s actions and demanded sanctions “appropriate to the serious of this action”.
“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) firmly condemns the dangerous conduct of the rider Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkea-Samsic), who pushed Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) into the barriers during the final sprint of the Cholet-Pays de la Loire (a Class 1.1 UCI Europe Tour event) in France on Sunday,” the governing body said in a statement.
“Bouhanni was disqualified by the UCI Commissaires’ Panel based on TV images.
“The UCI has decided to refer the incident to its Disciplinary Commission and demand the imposition of sanctions that are appropriate to the seriousness of this action.”