Marc Madiot has acknowledged that Nacer Bouhanni is likely to leave FDJ.fr at the end of the season, explaining that his team does not currently have the finances to keep the sprinter on board.
Madiot’s comments came in the wake of his decision to omit Bouhanni from the FDJ.fr line-up for the Tour de France. As was the case at Milan-San Remo earlier this year, FDJ.fr have instead selected Arnaud Démare as their sprinter for July.
Bouhanni’s contract expires at the end of this season and he has attracted interest from a number of teams. While he refused to rule out the prospect of continuing with FDJ.fr, his omission from the Tour roster suggests that he is increasingly likely to switch teams.
“I’m not without hope of finding the budget to keep Nacer but I don’t have it today. There is more chance of him leaving than staying with the team,” Madiot said on Monday, according to L’Équipe.
L’Équipe reports that Bouhanni’s asking price is €1.5 to €1.7 million per year for two seasons, and any prospective new team would also be expected to take part of his current FDJ lead-out train.
Earlier this month, Bouhanni said that he had narrowed his options for 2015 to three teams, believed to be FDJ.fr, Cofidis and an unnamed international team.
Cannondale – who have a French sub-sponsor in Sojasun – are among the foreign teams to have expressed an interest in signing Bouhanni, although manager Roberto Amadrio said before the start of the Giro d’Italia that they could not meet his wage demands.
Bouhanni did his market value no harm with a fine Giro, where he won three stages and reached Trieste in the red jersey of points classification winner. While his Giro campaign was testament to his form, it was also a factor in his omission from the Tour team.
“A combination of elements led to this decision. We weren’t sure that he would go all the way at the Giro,” Madiot said. “Today he doesn’t feel tired, but he could feel the knock-on effect at the Tour.”
Madiot informed Bouhanni of his exclusion from the team in a phone conversation during the Route du Sud, the sprinter’s first race since completing the Giro.
“We had a frank and direct conversation when I called him to say he wouldn’t be doing the Tour,” Madiot said. “It’s always difficult.
“We’re going to concentrate on the French championships. The situation doesn’t change anything for our strategy. The important thing is that the title stays with the team.”