Bouhanni presses charges after pre-Tour de France altercation
Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) has pressed charges following the late-night altercation on the eve of the French national championships that ultimately prevented him from participating in the Tour de France.
Bouhanni injured his hand during a fight with guests in the room adjacent to his on the night before the French championships in Vesoul. Although he was able to start the next day’s race, Bouhanni’s wound later became infected and he was unable to participate in the Tour.
“I was attacked by four people who were drunk and making a racket,” Bouhanni told Le Republicain Lorrain. “When I went to ask for silence because I had a race the next day, I didn’t see there were so many people in the room. If I’d know there were seven people in the room – four men and three women – I’d never have gone and asked directly.
“I just tried to defend myself, that’s all. The first person tried to hit me with his fist, which I avoided. Afterwards, there was a brawl and four of them came at me.”
Bouhanni said that he had decided to file a formal complaint with police in Nancy in order “to establish the truth: I am the victim of the story.”
Despite the incident, Bouhanni explained that he would have been able to participate in the Tour had his wound been treated differently. “I had my hand stitched up in the hospital in Besancon and it got infected. In an injury like that, above all you don’t stitch it. That’s what created the infection,” he said. “If it had been treated properly from the start, I’d be at the Tour de France now.”
After having the stitches removed and the wound cleaned in hospital in Nancy two days later, Bouhanni realised that lining out at the Tour was not feasible. A precise timeline for his return to action has yet to be established. “I want to get back as soon as possible, but right now, my health is the most important thing,” Bouhanni said.
Voeckler surprised to win combativity prize ahead of Fonseca
Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) has admitted that he was surprised to win the combativity prize on stage 3 of the Tour de France rather than Armindo Fonseca (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), who spent 140 kilometres alone off the front of the peloton before Voeckler bridged up to him.
The pair proceeded to stay clear together for a further 75 kilometres before they were swept up in the finale. Despite Fonseca’s long solo effort, the jury for the prix de la combativité was seemingly of the opinion that Voeckler’s reinforcements had done more to enliven the stage.
“I was surprised. I don’t know if I deserve it, Armindo maybe deserved it more,” Voeckler said after the podium ceremony, according to L’Équipe.
For his part, Fonseca apportioned no blame to his breakaway companion, who claimed the €2,000 prime for the day’s most aggressive rider. Fonseca was first through the uncontested intermediate sprint, landing €1,500 for his team.
“It’s not Thomas Voeckler’s fault, it’s perhaps the fault of the jury,” Fonseca said. “I’m not a champion. I try to get by with what I have. I knew that it was going to be difficult by myself. I wasn’t riding that fast and I waited for Thomas.”
Injured Bennett grateful for slower pace on stage 3
Although Sam Bennett’s injuries kept him out of the fray for Monday’s bunch sprint in Angers, the Irishman has grounds for optimism after surviving stage 3 of the Tour de France in the main peloton.
Bennett was among the fallers in the finishing straight crash on the opening day. He required stitches to his fingers and has had to ride with a protective bandage on his hand. After losing 16 minutes and coming home 198th and last the following day, the Bora-Argon 18 was grateful for the more sedate pace on Monday.
“They went a lot easier today so it was actually a perfect day for a recovery day – a long, six-hour recovery day,” said Bennett, who crossed the line in a group two minutes down on stage winner Mark Cavendish.
“We got within 2k [of the finish] and then I was able to sit up. It was good to be able to stay in the peloton a bit longer, I suppose, good for morale, but there’s a few harder days to come. I feel better. I was going harder and faster today, and I was in the peloton longer, so I must be a bit better today. So it’s positive.”
There is a degree of frustration, of course, at missing out on the Tour’s early bunch sprints, particularly given that a pre-race illness limited Bennett on his debut a year ago, but directeur sportif Enrico Poitschke said that survival is the name of the game for the time being.
“I was really happy that it was today a flat and quiet stage. For Sam it is necessary that he can recover a little bit after his crash, stay in the peloton and finish within the time limit. That's all we are expecting for the moment and now we are already a little more optimistic in the team,” he said.
Tour de France stage 3 highlights - video
Stage 3 of the 2016 Tour de France saw the peloton stage a silent protest of sorts as they traversed the 223.5km from Granville to Angers at a sluggish 37kph pace. A lone attacker, Armindo Fonseca (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) went clear and was cheered on by his fans as the race passed near his home town. He was joined later by Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) who impatiently surged ahead with 80km to go.
The sprinters' teams finally came through in the end, bringing the race back together for a bunch sprint, led to the line by André Greipel (Lotto Soudal). But the German champion chose too big a gear and ran out of power before the line, and was pipped by Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data).
Cavendish moved into the lead of the points classification, while Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) continued in the race lead.