Nacer Bouhanni damaged optic nerves in Tour de Yorkshire crash

'I almost lost my sight', French sprinter said of April incident

Nacer Bouhanni has announced that his Tour de Yorkshire crash in late-April was worse than first reported. The Cofidis sprinter crashed out of the race on stage three, a day after his stage win, with his team announcing he suffered concussion. As a result, Bouhanni was forced to miss the Tour of California and only made his return to racing at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June.

"When I crashed badly at the Yorkshire Tour late last April, what no one else knew, other than the 20 days of mandatory rest because of my head trauma, is that the optic nerve in my eyes was pretty damaged," Bouhanni told French website Cyclism Actu. "That is to say, I just saw badly. I couldn't see 100%. And sometimes, when fatigued, I happened to see double. Basically, I almost lost my sight."

After his break from racing, Bouhanni's best result at the Dauphiné came on stage two when he finished third in the bunch sprint. At the French nationals, he was then second to rival Arnaud Demare in preparation for the Tour de France. A multiple stage winner at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana, the Tour de France has proven to be a difficult race so far for the 27-year-old. Illness and crashes have blighted his Tours thus far, while a fight at the French nationals last year ruled him out of the race.

Despite the problems with his sight, Bouhanni recorded seven top-ten results as finished the Tour for the first time in his career, adding that his issues were arguably no worse than those suffered by other sprinters in the peloton.

"During the Tour de France I didn't see at 100 percent. I had a visual impairment as many cyclists have, you know," he said of the Tour, which was still not without incident. "Sometimes indeed when I was tired I saw double but fortunately it rarely happened to me in that race.

"I was not a public danger on the bike and during sprints because I didn't see at 100%. I have always been vigilant and focused on the different races that I participated in this season after my accident."

Adding that "I am completely cured after having medical tests with doctors of the University Hospital of Nancy-Brabois", Bouhanni explained his delight with an earlier than predicted recovery.

"After seven months of doubt, where I haven't been able to talk about it openly to anyone other than my Cofidis team, it has been confirmed that I have my visual faculties at 100 percent," he said. "Doctors told me after the fall that my recovery was going to take 12 months, so you will understand my relief to see that after only seven months everything is finally fine concerning my eyes."

After the Tour, Bouhanni took stage wins and enjoyed stints in the leader's jersey at the Tour de l'Ain and Tour du Poitou Charentes and also enjoyed victory in the one-day GP de Fourmies / La Voix du Nord. With the confidence of his late-season wins and confirmation of his eyesight returning to normal, a buoyant Bouhanni explained he is ready to hit the ground running in 2018.

"I can't wait to get back in competition and start this 2018 season at 100 percent of my physical abilities. I will finally be able to defend my chances thoroughly. But now it's up to me to prove in racing what I'm worth, above all."

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