Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) shrugged off any suggestion that he is the 'bad boy' of cycling, telling Le Télégramme before the GP Ouest-France Plouay Bretagne that he is not trying to cultivate that image.
"Have you seen the images? It was total nonsense," Bouhanni said. "Several of the other teams' riders also came to me to tell me they did not understand the commissaires' decision. Personally, I had no doubts about my victory after the line. I was calling my father and tell him that I had won when I was told that they had declassified me. I was disgusted ... I still do not understand what they have against me. Even when we see things much more serious in a sprint, right? Anyway, in my mind, I won the race."
When asked if his reputation clouded the judgement of the officials, Bouhanni said he did not know for sure. "I have the label of 'bad boy' that sticks to my skin. Personally, I'm not trying to give off that image. Is it because I was a boxer that they think of me this way now? I do not know. My job is to win races, the rest ..."
Bouhanni's image might be hampered by the dust-up with hotel guests before the French championships that left him with an infected hand that kept him out of the Tour de France, leaving his Cofidis team without its star. In February, he was indirectly accused of taking pushes from his teammates on climbs, and riders railed against the aggression of his lead-out men in the Critérium du Dauphiné.
But Bouhanni says he is just human.
"At the time, it is not fun, but I quickly move on. Some might like to see me give up but that's not my style. After being forced to withdraw from the Tour de France I was off the bike for two weeks, and I think that is what has been the most difficult. When I came back, I trained even harder. My staff tried to restrain me, I did not want to listen. I was right, it is paying off now."
Bouhanni bounced back with two stage wins in the Tour du Poitou-Charentes despite a crash in between his victories.