Nacer Bouhanni's (Cofidis) abandonment at the Critérium du Dauphiné on stage 2 still has his team management searching for answers, and with the Tour de France selection just a matter of weeks away, the Frenchman looks destined to miss out on a place for the second year running.
Bouhanni was dropped on stage 2 of the Dauphiné and failed to finish the stage. He came into the race hoping to secure his first win of the campaign, but after firing blanks at the Tour of California and completing only one stage of the Dauphiné, the 28-year-old's chances of returning to the Tour look slim as the status between rider and management continue to deteriorate.
"We'll have a meeting next week with the sports directors and Cedric Vasseur, and we'll decide on the pre-selection for the Tour de France," Roberto Damiani told Cyclingnews on Tuesday. "After the national championships in France and the rest of Europe, we’ll decide on the eight for the Tour France."
Bouhanni failed to make the cut for Cofidis' Tour de France team in 2018, but he bounced back at the Vuelta a España to win a stage. That win was seen as a fresh start, but this year Bouhanni has struggled. He embarrassingly missed the time cut in the Tirreno-Adriatico opening team time trial, and his Dauphiné woes could be the final nail in the coffin when it comes to riding this Tour.
"We need to work towards victories for the team," Damiani told Cyclingnews. "When we go to races we look to take the best of our riders. I don't see a big problem within the team. We're not happy with his results, he's one of the leaders and we need victories from him. Without wins we're not happy but we need to understand why things are like this.
"Stage 2 wasn't the best day. We need the analysis with Nacer. Normally the stage shouldn’t have been a problem and after California, the condition was well. The confidence was high, but we need to put the results on the table and look at the real situation. After this, we'll decide with total confidence on the eight riders for the Tour."
When asked if the team had confidence in Bouhanni when it came to delivering results, Damiani said it wasn't a question of confidence.
"Nacer is a Cofidis rider, and I’m sure he's in the pre-roster for the Tour before and after this race, but further work is needed," he said. "If I look at Jesus Herrada, who won two stages and the overall in Luxembourg, and Nacer is out of the Dauphiné, then it's something we need to look at. It's not the best and it’s something we need to look at."
With Arkea-Samsic rumoured to be interested in signing Bouhanni for next year, and Cofidis looking to invest in various other areas of the squad, Bouhanni's days appeared to be numbered after five years with the team.
When asked if he knew as to why Bouhanni had failed to gain consistent results this year, Damiani responded that it was a good question.
"I'd like the answer," he said. "If a rider has a health problem, you know. If a rider has a condition problem, you know. But right now I don't have the answers concerning Nacer. I read the papers, I know the morale isn’t the best, but I seriously don’t have the real answers."