After fifteen race days French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) is still without a win. In Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne the 24-year-old was present and near the front of the bunch but in the sprint he suddenly swerved to the left, touching the barriers but managing to stay upright, before rolling across the line in a disappointing 18th place.
"On a day like today you have to pay attention all day long. It's very special, very nervous. It wasn't bad for my first participation. The final sprint is a bad conclusion. I didn't get the chance to defend my chances," he said.
His Cofidis-train managed to deliver him at the front of the bunch when turning left into the finishing straight at 800 metres from the finish line in Kuurne. It turned out to be too soon and too far to the front.
"There was too much wind, headwind. I was in third position behind the Lotto-riders at 500 metres to go. That was too near to the front because there was a headwind. I preferred fifth or sixth place because there were still Kristoff and Cavendish and their teammates. When the Lotto riders were losing speed I was awaiting riders to move up on my right. I never found an opening on my right. When I want to start my sprint the rider from Lotto [Tom Van Asbroeck from LottoNL-Jumbo, BD] marked a move and I touched his rear wheel. I land on my guidon, touch the barriers and can't pedal for 50 metres. I don't know how I didn't crash. I touch the barriers, I can't pedal for four or five seconds," Bouhanni said.
On the Oude Kwaremont the big guns fired away and an elite group of 19 riders rode away from the first part of the peloton. The group featured the top sprinters and the classics specialists but Bouhanni was distanced.
"There was a crash ahead of me at the Kwaremont. Afterwards we worked hard to get back to the front group. The gap was never more than thirty seconds. There were other sprinters in the large group so I knew it was possible. I didn't feel bad today. It was very special on the cobbles. There were crashes and it was very nervous. In the end of the race we were well grouped together."
After Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne the Cofidis sprinter heads to Nice to train until Wednesday before heading home in the Vosges region. Then he'll head to Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo and Gent-Wevelgem, hoping for success despite the lack of victories in the build-up towards his first important part of the season.