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French sprinter Bouhanni likely to leave FDJ.fr at year’s end

  • By Gregor Brown
  • Published Jun. 30, 2014
Nacer Bouhanni won three stages at the Giro d'Italia in May. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MILAN (VN) — Due to budget, Arnaud Démare, and the Tour de France, Nacer Bouhanni will leave FDJ.fr at the end of 2014 and take his sprint to another team for 2015.

“There’s a 95 percent chance that I’ll leave team FDJ,” the 23-year-old told media after finishing second in the French Championships. “I’m considering two teams, one foreign, and one Cofidis. I’ll decide next week where I’ll race in 2015.”

Bouhanni, also known as “The Boxer,” failed to defend his French title yesterday in Futuroscope against Démare. The latter won the blue, white, and red jersey for the first time and will debut in the Tour de France wearing his nation’s colors.

The different race program is part of a growing split within the team, which is too small for the French sprinters. After winning three stages and the points jersey at the Giro d’Italia, Bouhanni wanted to race the Tour de France but had to step aside for the 22-year-old Démare, who had the general manager’s nod from the start of the 2014 season.

“[General manager] Marc Madiot called me before the official press release, but to be honest, I didn’t get a real explanation. I’m not looking for one either,” Bouhanni told France’s L’Equipe newspaper.

“I’m not going to cry about it because I know that I’ll be able to return to the Tour de France in the future.”

FDJ’s Tour team announcement, however, helped make up Bouhanni’s mind to the point that he was able to say with 95 percent certainty that he is leaving. Only on August 1, when cycling’s rules allow transfer announcements, will he be able to confirm his decision.

Bouhanni wants to have dedicated teammates — like Johan Le Bon and Sébastien Chavanel — to lead him out in the sprint, a secure program — one that includes Milano-Sanremo, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, and the Tour — and a contract worth 1.5 to 1.7 million euros. Bouhanni mentioned Cofidis, but Cannondale, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and Ag2r La Mondiale reportedly want to sign him as well.

“There are more chances of him changing teams than staying,” Madiot said last week. “I’m sorry, but I just don’t have the budget now to keep him.”

Bouhanni began his professional career in 2010 as a stagiaire, and over the last year and a half he blossomed with wins in the Giro d’Italia and Paris-Nice. Last year, he had his chance to race the Tour de France but had to abandon in stage 6 after becoming sick.

This spring he won his second stage in Paris-Nice. The following week, though, he began to consider a future without FDJ when the team overlooked him for Milano-Sanremo. “Sanremo was my first season goal,” he said. “That upset me.”

Given the proper support and time to develop, Bouhanni could develop into a sprinter like Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel, or André Greipel. In 2015, he could take the next step in that direction.

“I’m still young, 23 years old,” Bouhanni said at the Giro. “I want to improve year by year, I’m training to reach that next level. I don’t want to compare myself to them, but I do want to improve and reach new goals.”

FILED UNDER: News / Road / Tour de France TAGS: / /

Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown

Bikes kept Gregor Brown out of trouble growing up in Oklahoma — BMX, freestyle and then watching Greg LeMond's Tour de France wins on CBS television's weekend highlights shows. The drama of the 1998 Tour, however, truly drew him into the fold. With a growing curiosity in European races and lifestyle, he followed his heart and established camp on Lake Como's shores in 2004. Brown has been following the Giro, the Tour and every major race in Europe since 2006. He will tell you it is about the "race within the race" – punching out the news and running to finish – but he loves a proper dinner, un piatto tipico ed un vino della zona.

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