Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) has expressed his disappointment at not being selected for the French squad for the World Championships in Bergen, arguing that he is now back to his best after a difficult Tour de France.
The Frenchman won the GP de Fourmies on Sunday, despite crashing the day before at the Brussels Classic. He is on track to top the UCI Europe Tour ranking thanks to seven victories but it was not enough to convince new French national coach Cyril Guimard to select him, or any sprinter, for the World Championships. Arnaud Demare and Bryan Coquard have also been left out of the team, with Julian Alaphilippe named as the team leader.
"After the season I've had, I'd set myself the goal of getting back to my best and the World Championships was a good objective. However the national coach opted not to take a sprinter. He must have his reasons but if the race finishes with a group of 40 or so riders, it'll be a real pity not to have any sprinters…” Bouhanni lamented to L'Equipe in a long interview, revealing that Guimard had not even called him.
"I've never had a conversation with Guimard. He just sent me an email after Plouay saying that if he selected a sprinter it was between me and Bryan Coquard. In the end he decided not to select either of us. It's his choice. A lot of other nations have selected a sprinter and will ride for them. We'll see what happens."
Bouhanni crashed at the Tour de Yorkshire in late April and struggled on his return at the Criterium du Dauphine. He finished the Tour de France for the first time in his career but his best result in the sprints was fourth in Vittel, when he was hampered by rival Arnaud Demare, and in the final sprint on the Champs Elysees.
He won a stage at the Tour de l'Ain in August and again at the Tour du Poitou Charentes, before confirming his form at the GP de Fourmies.
"I was off the bike for 20 days in May and they told me that my season was over. Getting to the start of the Tour was a victory, finishing it was another,” he said.
"Things have got better and better since then and I feel I'm better than ever, that's why I wanted to start on Sunday, despite my injuries from Saturday's crash. I feel a lot stronger than at the Tour de France.
"It was three hard weeks for me. I'd start my sprint but then seize up. I got through it by telling myself that it'd be useful for the future."
Bouhanni confirmed he will ride the Tour of Denmark (September 11-16) and probably end his season after riding Paris-Tours on October 10.
"After the crash it was a race against time to recover and ride the Tour de France. We pushed things and there was a lot of pressure. I'm looking forward to putting my bike away for a long spell, so that I can take a break, go on holiday and fully recover from what has been a really hard year.”