Nacer Bouhanni is one of the peloton’s more pugnacious characters – his combative attitude brought him five stage wins in Grand Tours this year – but says his future lies in pugilism and plans to switch to boxing once he brings an end to his cycling career.
That’s still some way off for the 24-year-old who won three stages and the points classification in May’s Giro d’Italia then added a pair of stages in the Vuelta. According to an interview with L’Equipe, he plans to keep riding for a few years yet, then focus on the ring rather than the road.
“I’ll stop cycling at the age of 32 which will give me two years to go as far as I can in boxing,” said Bouhanni, who describes boxing as his "passion" but cycling as a "job.".
That would still leave him three decades younger than actor Mickey Rourke, who returned to the ring in Moscow at the weekend for what might very charitably be termed an exhibition bout. Well, it is the season of goodwill.
Bouhanni, who is joining Cofidis for 2015 following five seasons at FDJ.fr, was handy with the gloves on as a teenager, and still uses boxing to help keep in shape during the close season at his club in Nouzonville, in the Ardennes department on France’s border with Belgium.
He said his time spent sparring helps his preparations for the cut and thrust of sprint finishes.
“In boxing, your pulse quickly reaches 180 beats a minute, just like in a sprint,” he revealed.
“That helps me keep in control of my emotions before releasing all my energy in the last 200 metres,” he added.
Bouhanni, who plans on riding the Tours of Qatar and Oman ahead of the Spring Classics campaign, is far from the only cyclist to have been talented at another sport.
Rebecca Romero was an Olympic medallist in rowing before taking individual pursuit gold at Beijing in 2008, while two women – Crista Ludig of Germany, and Canada’s Clara Hughes – have won medals in road cycling at the Summer Games and in speed skating at the Winter Olympics.
Dame Sarah Storey, meanwhile, has three Paralympic gold medals in cycling and three on the track, but before switching to the bike she'd already won five in the swimming pool.
Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of crossover between cycling and triathlon – Emma Pooley and Lance Armstrong are two names that spring immediately to mind – while 2006 Tour de France winner Oscar Pereiro turned out briefly for third tier Spanish football side Coruxo FC after his cycling career came to a close.
Moving in the opposite direction was Knut Anders Fostervold, who spent 12 seasons as a footballer, including playing for his hometown club Molde against Real Madrid in the Champions League – the Spanish side won the competition that year – before switching to cycling, twice representing Norway in the World Championship Time Trial.
There are more, of course – British Cycling’s talent spotting programme, for example, identifies youngsters who are strong at sports such as athletics and may have talent on the bike – but it got us thinking; which cyclists do you think might be good at another sport, and why?
Let us know in the comments below – we don’t necessarily mean ones they already have a background in, so let your imagination guide your choice.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.