The UCI says it "strongly condemns" the actions of Arkea-Samsic rider Nacer Bouhanni following an incident in yesterday's Cholet-Pays de la Loire race in which he pushed Groupama-FDJ rider Jake Stewart into the barriers as the pair contested the final sprint. The French sprinter insists it was not “intentional," although TV footage strongly suggests otherwise.
Bouhanni was disqualified from the results, and world cycling's governing body also said that it "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."
— World Cycling Stats (@wcsbike) March 28, 2021
A number of Twitter users commenting on the incident likened it to the crash during the Tour de Pologne last year that resulted in Deceuninck-Quick Step rider Fabio Jakobsen being placed in an induced coma after Dylan Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma pushed him into crash barriers during a sprint.
Groenewegen was handed a nine-month ban by the UCI Disciplinary Commission following the incident, which happened during a downhill sprint in the opening stage of the race last August.
Meanwhile British rider Stewart, who had been challenging for the win but ended up finishing 29th, took to Twitter yesterday evening to tell Bouhanni that he had "no respect" for other riders' safety.
Yo @BouhanniNacer I would ask you what you was thinking...but you clearly have no brain cells. 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... 😶 https://t.co/nk5Bp6lE0V
— Jake (@jakey_stewart) March 28, 2021
But in a statement released through his Arkea-Samsic team today, Bouhanni insisted the incident was not “intentional" despite the TV evidence.
“I'm sorry for Jake Stewart. The sprint went like this: I saw Elia Viviani launch and I wanted to take his wheel.
“I will admit that my mistake was to change course to take his wheel. I didn’t see Jake Stewart at this point.
“When we come into contact with each other I find myself unbalanced. I made up for it as best I can so as not to fall.
“I just wanted to take the slipstream because the wind was coming from the right side, by no means was it intentional," he added.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.