Nacer Bouhanni has abandoned the Tour de France after being involved in a crash on a narrowing road after 10.5 kilometres of stage 5. The Frenchman was one of five Cofidis riders to hit the deck in a pile-up and had to be taken away in an ambulance, but was the only rider to abandon.
Bouhanni has no broken bones but aggravated the injuries to his ribs, hips and wrist that he sustained in a crash during the closing stages of the French national championships road race, which, the weekend before the Tour, had put his participation in severe doubt.
"He was taken to hospital in Arras. At first sight, there is nothing alarming but the X-rays will tell us more. He suffers from the ribs, the hips, the wrist, more or less the same problems he had after the French championship," Cofidis team boss Yvon Sanquer told letour.com.
It compounds a miserable relationship with the Tour for Bouhanni, who was forced to abandon his debut Tour in 2013 due to illness and was overlooked for selection by FDJ last year. In fact, he has abandoned all but one of the six Grand Tours he has started. This crash comes as a particular blow on a stage likely to end in a bunch sprint and following his increasingly promising form ahead of the Tour, showcased by two stage wins at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June.
"He is also stunned and dejected by this abandon, his second on the Tour after a crash," continued Sanquer. "It's an enormous disappointment because we were tackling three stages that suited him. Now the team will try to remotivate. We are not going to spend two and a half weeks in mourning."
Stage 5 is flat on paper but given the twisting direction of the exposed roads in northern France and the forecasted wind and rain, it was never going to be straightforward. It is something that Cofidis were particularly wary of ahead of the stage, with Sanquer warning his riders to be vigilant.
"Today it's true that we expected a quieter start to the stage and a bunch sprint, which would have suited us, but given the conditions, anything could happen," he told letour.com at the start of the day. "There is the risk of attacks, even from the general classification contenders. Nacer is good, he proved that yesterday as did the whole team. Here we are going back to conditions similar to those of Zélande. We're going to have to be in the front group to contest the sprint. The word of the day: vigilance, vigilance!"