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Bouhanni quits Criterium du Dauphine on second day

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Cofidis sprinter Nacer Bouhanni during stage 1 of the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine

Cofidis sprinter Nacer Bouhanni during stage 1 of the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) on stage 1 of the 2019 Tour of Oman

Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) on stage 1 of the 2019 Tour of Oman
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) beats Coquard and Bouhanni to the line on stage 1 of the 2019 Tour of Oman

Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) beats Coquard and Bouhanni to the line on stage 1 of the 2019 Tour of Oman
(Image credit: Getty Images)
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Nacer Bouhanni riding on his way to third on stage 1 at the Tour of Oman

Nacer Bouhanni riding on his way to third on stage 1 at the Tour of Oman
(Image credit: Getty Images)
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Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis)

Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis)
(Image credit: Cofidis)

Cofidis sprinter Nacer Bouhanni quit the Critérium du Dauphiné on stage 2 on Monday, leaving the question of his Tour de France participation up in the air.

The 28-year-old Frenchman showed signs of a return to form with two top-10 finishes in sprints at the recent Tour of California, but having had to pull out of the Dauphiné so early in the race, before having the chance to test himself against the other sprinters on what will likely be a bunch sprint on Tuesday's third stage from Le Puy-en-Velay to Riom, may affect his chances of gaining selection for the Cofidis Tour squad.

"They started giving it everything on the day's first climb, and I never managed to catch up again," Bouhanni told L'Equipe after stage 2 of the Dauphiné on Monday. "I tried to get back with the help of [teammate] Geoffrey Soupe in a group of eight riders.

"I needed to try to get through the first two days," he continued, with the sprinters' first real opportunity still to come on Tuesday. "It's over. My morale's not great, and I don't really know what else to say."

Bouhanni has had a troubled past couple of seasons at Cofidis, having often failed to see eye-to-eye with team manager Cédric Vasseur, who joined the outfit ahead of the 2018 season. Bouhanni was overlooked for a Tour place last July, with former lead-out man Christophe Laporte instead handed the main sprinter's role.

More recently, tests ahead of the Tour of California revealed, Bouhanni said, that he was suffering from both physical and mental fatigue due to magnesium deficiency.

But after finishing fourth on stage 4 to Morro Bay at the Tour of California in May – and eighth the next day in Ventura – Cofidis sports director Roberto Damiani told Cyclingnews: "We're very happy – and a little bit surprised – but happy about Nacer's condition."

Damiani also confirmed at that point that Bouhanni was on the Cofidis long list for a Tour place, although Bouhanni said in February that he didn't think that he'd know whether he would be part of Cofidis' Tour team until five days before the race – after the French national championship road race, which happens the weekend before the Tour starts in Brussels, Belgium, on July 6.

"The Tour de France? I don't know, but that's going to be up to Cofidis to decide," Bouhanni told L'Equipe when asked about it on Monday. "I've been doing everything I can, and have been training hard. After the Tour of California, I kept training hard, but when I get to a race, I seem to be somehow 'blocked'."