Nacer Bouhanni has confirmed that a dropped chain prevented him from contesting the sprint that decided Milan-San Remo. The Cofidis sprinter appeared to have found the perfect position coming into the finish but was unable to respond when his French rival Arnaud Démare began his San Remo-winning surge. Bouhanni finished fourth, crossing the line hammering his bars with anger.
Having subsequently undertaken some violent remodelling of his bike, Bouhanni took refuge in his team bus and only revealed his version of events when contacted by L’Équipe on the eve of the Volta a Catalunya.
“I went over the summit of the Cipressa in the first 20 and then went over the Poggio in the first 15 or 20. I reached the sprint in the ideal position – I was third coming out of the last bend,” Bouhanni explained.
“And then, suddenly, my chain dropped. It jumped from the big ring to the little ring. In all honestly, I felt I was going to win, I had done the perfect sprint. Everything was in place for me to win. I can’t understand what happened. I was saying to myself that it wasn’t possible that that had happened to me at that moment, in that place… when victory was reaching out to me.”
Cofidis team manager Yvon Sanquer said that Bouhanni was initially so enraged by this setback that he decided not to take part in the Volta and gave instructions that his bikes be sent back home. However, he soon relented and travelled to Spain aiming to put this reverse behind him.
“I was so disappointed I did hesitate, but I moved on from that,” Bouhanni confirmed. “I also spoke with my father. He tried to comfort me, but there’s not a lot you can say about a situation like that… You have to keep your morale up as clearly there are a lot worse things in life.”
Bouhanni indicated he’s optimistic about his prospects in the Volta, saying, “there are three or four stages that suit me”.
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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