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Bouhanni handed two-month suspension for 'dangerous conduct' in Cholet sprint

Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic)
Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic) (Image credit: Getty Images)

The UCI announced Wednesday that its Disciplinary Commission has handed Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic) a partially retroactive two-month suspension for deviating from his line in a sprint at the Cholet-Pays de la Loire in March.

Bouhanni veered left in the Cholet-Pays de la Loire sprint and made contact with Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ), who was forced into the barriers and suffered a fracture in his left hand. 

"The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that its Disciplinary Commission has rendered its decision regarding the incident involving UCI ProTeam Arkéa – Samsic rider Nacer Bouhanni, during the Cholet-Pays de la Loire race on 28 March 2021," read the statement from the sport governing body.

"The Disciplinary Commission held a hearing on 6 May 2021, at which the rider admitted to having deviated from his line and committed a violation of the UCI Regulations. The rider agreed to the imposition of a two-month suspension starting retroactively on 8 April 2021. The suspension shall end on 7 June 2021. The rider also agreed to the imposition of educational measures for the benefit of the cycling family.

"The UCI is committed to continuing its work to make road cycling a safer sport for riders and reiterates that dangerous behaviour has no place in modern cycling. Therefore, the UCI reminds that any breach of the rules of safety or care shall be subject to disciplinary action."

Directly following the sprint at Cholet-Pays de la Loire, Bouhanni was relegated to the back of the bunch for deviating from his line and the UCI referred the incident to its Disciplinary Commission.

The French rider apologised for deviating from his line and denied there had been any malicious intent in the week following the incident and again expressed these sentiments in a team statement released after the UCI decision was announced.

“I would like to reiterate my apologies to Jake Stewart and assure him that I did not intend to endanger him during the sprint at Cholet-Pays-de-la-Loire," said Bouhanni. "I made a mistake by changing course and accepting the consequences.

"I am delighted to be able to prepare for the races in June, including the France championship in my hometown of Épinal, and to preserve my chances of being selected for the next Tour de France."

Following the sprint incident at Cholet-Pays de la Loire the Arkéa-Samsic rider revealed that he had suffered racist abuse. Bouhanni, a Muslim of North African descent, shared several abusive messages he had received after the incident on Instagram, among them pig emojis and messages telling him to go back to Africa. Stewart also posted a message to Twitter showing his support to Bouhanni and condemning the abuse he has received after the incident at Cholet-Pays de la Loire.

"A period of uncertainty is coming to an end today, which was difficult to live with, particularly in view of the violence of the invective to which I was the object [of] on the social networks following this incident,” said Bouhanni.

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.