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Police officer stops ex-French president Nicolas Sarkozy - for cycling the wrong way along quayside in St Tropez

Incident happened on New Year's Eve at end of a bad year for the politcian...

Last year didn’t end too well for former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who retired from politics in November after being soundly beaten in that month’s primaries to be the centre-right candidate in this spring’s election.

2016 wasn’t finished with him, though, and he’s back in the news after being ordered off his bike on New Year’s Eve by a policeman for cycling the wrong way on the quayside at the millionaires’ playground of St Tropez.

Since he and Carla Bruni married in 2008, the couple have spent their summer and other holidays around 15 kilometres from the Cote d’Azur resort at the Cap Nègre clifftop villa owned by the singer and former model’s mother.

When there, keen cyclist Sarkozy regularly hops on his bike to head into the hills, but Nice-Matin reports that last Saturday, instead of tackling the cols above the coast, the 61-year-old rode to St Tropez for a more “festive” ride.

However, he fell foul of the law as he pedalled the wrong way  along the one-way quayside by the town’s Vieux Port on his road bike, from the French brand Look.

Moreover, the street was thronged with locals on foot enjoying the traditional New Year’s Eve daytime festivities revolving around consumption of anchoïade, the anchovy paste that is a local speciality.

Sarkozy was stopped by a municipal police officer, who told the newspaper: “I don’t know how he managed to reach that point.

“I asked him politely to get off his bike and continue on foot, if only for reasons of safety.

“He told me he had no problem with that and complied."

The officer, with perhaps a slight degree of understatement given Sarkozy was the most powerful man in France from 2007-12, continued: “I knew very well who he was because I’d already come across him dressed casually on the port one summer.

“I stopped him informally with no thought of obtaining a statement, as I would have done for any other cyclist. He received no favourable treatment.

“There was no problem,” the officer acknowledged, adding that Sarkozy had been an “atypical” person to have had to deal with on New Year’s Eve.

The former president may become a more familiar sight on his bike on the Cote d’Azur now his career as a politician is over; he has said he wants to devote “more time to private passions, and less to public ones.”

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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