Bouhanni to return to racing at Tour of California in mid-May

French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) won't race again until the Tour of California on May 12, citing a magnesium deficiency as the reason he had to quit the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe earlier this month, but that it's his team's decision to keep him away from competition for the next couple of weeks.

The 28-year-old told L'Equipe that stopping racing for a full month was Cofidis's – rather than his – decision, but that he'd dropped out of the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe on the penultimate stage because he was "lacking power".

"Subsequent tests revealed a magnesium deficiency," he explained, and said that tests last year had already shown that he was suffering from both physical and mental fatigue – which tallies with the symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

With regards his lay-off from racing, Bouhanni said that it wasn't his choice, and that he's "wasting time" by not racing, as he hopes to race this year's Tour de France with the team, having missed out last year.

"I got told [that I wasn't racing until the Tour of California] in a voice message from sports director Alain Deloeuil," he told L'Equipe. "So I'll just keep training."

Bouhanni has struggled to rediscover the kind of form that saw him consistently win multiple stages of Paris-Nice, the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Volta a Catalunya ahead of the arrival of new Cofidis team manager Cédric Vasseur for the 2018 season, with the two riders rarely seeing eye-to-eye since.

Although Bouhanni later managed to win a stage of last year's Vuelta a España, he was overlooked for last summer's Tour in favour of former lead-out man Christophe Laporte, and has since said that he's already been in contact with other teams about the 2020 season.

Vasseur had earlier told the same French sports newspaper that Bouhanni's performance at the Tour of California (May 12-18) will help to shape his racing programme for June.

"His performances these past few weeks have not been what we'd been expecting," Vasseur said. "But we're not trying to force anything; we just have to let him train. Medical tests haven't shown up anything specific, but Nacer has continued to suffer from pain in his muscles.

"That could be due to allergies, because of high pollen counts" he continued, and said that Bouhanni's time away from racing wouldn't compromise his chances of riding the Tour, but that his participation was still "uncertain".

When told by L'Equipe that Vasseur had suggested that Bouhanni could be suffering from some kind of allergy, his response was unequivocal: "No – I've never suffered from any kind of allergy throughout my career."

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