Nacer Bouhanni headlines Cofidis nine for Tour de France

French sprinter still hunting first career Tour stage victory

Cofidis unveiled their Tour de France nine on Monday with sprinter Nacer Bouhanni naturally headlining the roster in the hope he can finally strike in the biggest race of the season. Cofidis is a Professional Continental team and so were given a wild card invitation to the Tour de France.

26-year-old Bouhanni enjoyed a fine spring with one-day wins at Nokere Koerse and Paris-Camembert and stage wins in the Volta a Catalunya and Tour de Yorkshire but a crash knocked him out of competition for more than a month. Bouhanni sustained a concussion and was forced to abandon the British stage race, and only returned to racing at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Despite the long layoff in the middle of his Tour build-up, Bouhanni looks to be in reasonable form, delivering a second-place finish at Sunday's French national championship road race, where he was narrowly out-sprinted by former teammate Arnaud Démare (FDJ).

The 2017 Tour de France will be Bouhanni's third career appearance in the race. A multiple stage winner in both the Vuelta a España and the Giro d'Italia, he has never won a stage in the French Grand Tour.

Luis Ángel Maté will be a man for the breakaways but explained the team ambition for the race is to secure a stage win with Bouhanni in the sprints.

"There are twelve stages that are precious for a sprint, although some of them could not happen due to the breakaways. We have to work for Nacer, we are here to do our best for him to reach the decisive part of the stages in the best conditions," said Mate. "Nacer is a powerful leader and we will do our best for him. We all are physically well and we hope to break our bad stretch at the Tour. If we try our best but we get beaten, then we'll just congratulate the winner. This is sport, and this is how it works."

Bouhanni's trusted lead out man Geoffrey Soupe joins him in Cofidis' Tour squad. Veteran climber Daniel Navarro, meanwhile, will give the Pro Continental team an option for the mountain stages.

Cofidis for the Tour de France: Nacer Bouhanni, Dimitri Claeys, Christophe Laporte, Cyril Lemoine, Luis Angel Maté, Daniel Navarro, Florian Sénéchal, Julien Simon, Geoffrey Soupe.

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