Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) is in the form of his life according to his coach, and former rider, Jacques Decrion. Bouhanni has been training hard over the past weeks, as he hopes to make FDJ's Tour de France team this July.
“With the results that he got at the Giro, he is as strong as ever,” Decrion told L’Équipe. “Mentally he is very strong also. I think that it is not just four victories (three stages and the points competition) that he has emerged with. He took a fifth when he made it through the mountain stage in the snow with the Stelvio and Gavia.”
Bouhanni won’t have to wait much longer to see if he has made it into FDJ.fr’s Tour de France team. Team boss Marc Madiot is set to make his selection after the Tour de Suisse and Route de Sud finish this weekend.
FDJ is currently trying to juggle the general classification ambitions of Thibaut Pinot, and the sprinter Arnaud Démare. Bouhanni hadn’t factored into the team’s thoughts for this July, but his performance at the Giro d’Italia threw a spanner into the works. Now Madiot must decide if he should try to squeeze the in-form sprinter into his nine-man squad or leave him behind.
The 23-year-old has been training in the Vosges, near his home in Épinal, but has had a tense few weeks as Madiot considers his options. Decrion says that Bouhanni must not dwell on the decision whichever way it goes.
“He has no other choice but to wait for the decision,” says Decrion. “He respects the management and he will have to accept it if it is not favourable.”
Bouhanni returns to action for the first time since the Giro d’Italia at the Route du Sud, which begins today. There is only one potential sprint finish on Sunday, and he is one of only four sprinters to ride the three-day race – along with Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) and Leonardo Duque (Colombia). However, the race should provide the Frenchman with an opportunity to test his climbing with the Tourmalet and Col de Aspin on stage two.