After a difficult start to the season that tested the patience of his Cofidis team, Nacer Bouhanni appears to be back on track for selection to the squad's Tour de France team after taking a victory on stage 3 of the Boucles de la Mayenne. Bouhanni out-kicked Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) and Anthony Maldonado (Auber 93) in Pré En Pail.
Before the stage, team manager Cedric Vasseur had already opined in his L'Equipe column that he felt Bouhanni was getting back to his best.
"Nacer's physical progress is confirmed, and he has regained confidence," Vasseur wrote less than a month after threatening to leave a winless Bouhanni at home for the Tour de France.
Cofidis left the 27-year-old sprinter off its roster for Milan-San Remo because of poor form and put him on notice to improve or face the possibility of being let out of his contract with the squad early.
"What was worrying was this lack of rage," Vasseur wrote. "But there was a real cause. We had tests at the Mapei centre, and they showed a lack of endurance."
With some answers in hand and a new plan, Bouhanni took a victory on stage 3 of the 4 Jours de Dunkerque, then another in the Grote Prijs Marcel Kint. Vasseur said he is now "in a good state of mind, and completely different from the beginning of the year."
Bouhanni even started stage 3 believing that the final circuit's four short, sharp climbs in the last 30km were not for him.
"It was a very difficult stage," Bouhanni said according to L'Equipe. "When I saw the route, I thought it was not for me, I had to work hard all day. I had difficulties in the climb, but fortunately, I had great teammates with me. Yesterday, we worked a lot and we were not rewarded, it's like that. That's bike racing."