Cedric Vasseur has insisted that Nacer Bouhanni’s future at Cofidis is down to whether the French rider can justify his salary and status as a team leader. Bouhanni admitted to Cyclingnews last month that he was already in discussions with other teams, with his contract at Cofidis set to expire at the end of this season.
Bouhanni has endured a difficult relationship with Cofidis over the last twelve months, with the team frustrated by the lack of results from their sprinter, as well as his consistency to deliver when given opportunities. He initially signed for the team in 2015 and was given a contract extension two years ago.
The sprinter was omitted from last year’s Tour de France but came back to win a stage at the Vuelta a Espana. However, Vasseur, who took over the management of Cofidis at the end of 2017, told Cyclingnews that any talks of a new contract extension were on hold until Bouhanni provided further proof of his credentials as a leader.
“Of course, he’s at the end of his contract and he’s motivated to sign or re-sign, and as with all riders out of contract at the end of 2019, he’s talking to other teams. That’s normal. He doesn’t have to say it. It’s the same for me as a manager. There are riders out of contract talking to us,” Vasseur told Cyclingnews at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
“But it’s too early to talk to Nacer. He has a leadership status in the team with a leader’s salary but at the moment it’s better not talk with him because there are differences in salaries. He’s not performed at that level, so for us it’s better to let him focus on the racing and for him to show us that he’s still a leader. Then we’ll see if there’s an opportunity to talk or not. Now it’s too early.”
Vasseur added that Bouhanni would be given chances at a number of races over the coming months, and that Cofidis would send both Bouhanni and Christophe Laporte to Milan-San Remo in March. Bouhanni will lead the line for Cofidis at Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.
“He’s in good shape. He’s goes from Tirreno to Milan-San Remo with Christophe Laporte, and if he wins Milan-San Remo then of course we have to talk but right now it’s too early,” Vasseur said.
Asked by Cyclingnews if Cofidis would offer Bouhanni a contract from 2020 if the rider maintained his level of performances from the last few seasons, Vasseur said: “We can always offer a contract but it’s a question of salary. The market for a rider is like that of an actor. It depends on what your performances are like. Today we’re still expecting things from him. It’s not the opposite. He’s not expecting things from us. We have given him time and he’s started the season well. I don’t want him to be nervous and we’ve not talked about 2020 yet. If you want more then you need to show it on the road. We’ll give him the chances to show his talent but now it’s in his hands.”