Bouhanni apologises for behaviour after Paris-Bourges
Cofidis rider maintains Barbier's sprint was dangerous
Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) has apologised for his behaviour following the sprint finish of Paris-Bourges on Friday, saying that he had reacted emotionally after a near-crash.
Bouhanni had a verbal confrontation with race winner Rudy Barbier (AG2R-La Mondiale) soon after the finish line, which was caught on the cameras of several fans. Bouhanni, who has been a divisive character in the peloton, had to be separated from Barbier by one of the AG2R La Mondiale team soigneurs as others watched on. He had initially said that he had nothing to say sorry about, but eventually posted a statement on both Facebook and Twitter after the race.
While apologising for his conduct, Bouhanni maintained the reasoning behind it, saying that Barbier had acted dangerously in the build-up to the sprint. The Cofidis rider said that Barbier's sprint had almost caused him to crash.
"I reacted emotionally at the finish of Paris-Bourges. I had just been very scared. The Rudy Barbier's sprint was completely irregular and particularly dangerous. I avoided a big crash that could have put a lot of riders in danger. I apologise to the people who saw this scene for what I said, but I was exasperated. All the work of the team was swept away by the behaviour of Rudy Barbier and it is a lost victory."
There is no clear footage of the crash and Bouhanni was several riders behind Barbier when the small group rounded the final corner. Bouhanni claimed in the French press that he had to jump onto the pavement to avoid Barbier with around 200 metres to go. "I had to jump a path because Rudy Barbier struck me voluntarily when he saw me in the wheel of Christophe Laporte who was leading me out. So I jumped a path and passed 50 centimeters from some gates to get back on the pavement. That is 200m from the line. Everyone saw what happened," Bouhanni told Ciclismactu.net.
Bouhanni is no stranger to controversial racing. He was recently given a one-minute time penalty and a fine at the Tour de France for hitting Jack Bauer (Quick-Step Floors) after the New Zealander bumped into him.
Barbier went on to win the Paris-Bourges, beating FDJ's Marc Sarreau and Jeremy Lecroq of Roubaix-Lille Metropole. Christophe Laporte was Cofidis' best finisher on the day in fifth place while Bouhanni did not end up contesting the sprint and came across the line in 14th.
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