Nacer Bouhanni has been left out of the Cofidis team for the Tour de France for the second year in succession. The Frenchman has failed to win a race thus far in 2019 and abandoned the recent Critérium du Dauphiné on stage 2.
Cofidis have competed at every Tour de France since their inception in 1997, but they have not won a stage of the Tour since Sylvain Chavanel’s victory in Montlucon in 2008. The Professional Continental squad’s eight-man roster here is dedicated entirely to bringing an end to that drought.
Bouhanni raced the Heistse Pijl and Elfstedenronde in Belgium last weekend and placed 23rd in Sunday’s French national championships road race, but he did not do enough to convince Cofidis manager Cedric Vasseur to bring him to the Tour de France.
He took to social media to talk about his exclusion from the Cofidis Tour de France team, writing: "Il y aura des jours meilleurs ... A l’année prochaine letourdefrance - There will be better days ... See you next year letourdefrance #tourdefrance"
Christophe Laporte will be Cofidis’ sprinter in the absence of Bouhanni. The Frenchman placed second to Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) in the bunch finish in Pau during last year’s Tour de France. Laporte began 2019 with two stage wins and overall victory at Étoile des Bessèges and he also claimed two stage wins at last month’s Tour of Luxembourg.
Jesus Herrada will lead Cofidis’ hunt for stage wins on more rugged terrain. The Spaniard has enjoyed a fine spell of recent form, winning the inaugural Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge and the general classification at the Tour of Luxembourg.
Nicolas Edet, Pierre-Luc Périchon, and Eritean national champion Natnael Berhane also feature in the Cofidis team, together with Julien Simon, who placed second in Sunday’s French championships road race, and Stéphane Rossetto, who is making his Tour de France debut at 32 years of age.
Bouhanni, meanwhile, will have to wait at least another year to open his account on the Tour. The 28-year-old has started the race on just three occasions in his career. He abandoned due to illness on his debut in 2013 and again following a brace of crashes in his first season at Cofidis in 2015.
A year later, Bouhanni missed the Tour after injuring his hand during an alteration with guests at his hotel on the eve of the French championships road race. He completed the 2017 Tour but was hampered by the effects of a heavy crash at that year’s Tour de Yorkshire. Fourth place on the Champs-Élysées was his best performance in a Tour sprint.
Bouhanni’s contract expires at the end of this season and it seems likely that he will leave Cofidis for pastures new in 2020.
"I'm already in contact with other French teams, and some foreign teams,” Bouhanni told Cyclingnews in February. “Pro Continental on the French side, but WorldTour teams on the foreign side.”
The 2019 Tour gets underway in Brussels on Saturday.
Cofidis team for 2019 Tour de France: Christophe Laporte, Nicolas Edet, Anthony Perez, Jesus Herrada, Pierre-Luc Périchon, Natnael Berhane, Julien Simon, Stéphane Rossetto.
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