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Nacer Bouhanni facing disciplinary action after 'dangerous conduct' in Cholet sprint

BELLEGARDE FRANCE FEBRUARY 03 Nacer Bouhanni of France and Team Arkea Samsic during the 51st toile de Bessges Tour du Gard 2021 Stage 1 a 14355km stage from Bellegarde to Bellegarde 57m EDB2020 on February 03 2021 in Bellegarde France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic) was quickly stripped of his podium finish at Cholet-Pays de la Loire for dangerous riding during the sprint, but the Frenchman faces further punishment after the UCI opened disciplinary proceedings on Monday. 

Bouhanni deviated from his sprinting line on Sunday, veering left and making contact with Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ), who was forced into the barriers.

Stewart managed to avoid crashing but had to stop pedaling and crossed the line in 29th place. He later called out Bouhanni, posting a video of the incident and accusing him of having 'no brain cells'.

On Monday, the UCI, whose commissaires relegated Bouhanni to the back of the bunch at the time, announced it had referred the incident to its Disciplinary Commission. 

"The UCI firmly condemns the dangerous conduct of the rider Nacer Bouhanni," read the statement, adding that the UCI will "demand the imposition of sanctions that are appropriate to the seriousness of this action."

The UCI issued a similar statement when Dylan Groenewegen deviated from his line last year's Tour de Pologne, causing Fabio Jakobsen to crash into the barriers. 

Groenewegen was handed a landmark nine-month ban in November, which could come to act as a precedent in determining future sanctions for such incidents. 

Jakobsen suffered life-threatening injuries and has yet to return to racing, but it has been widely argued that the finish line barriers, which collapsed on impact, and the downhill sprint that had previously been flagged as dangerous, were significant factors in the consequences of the crash. 

Stewart hit the barriers on Sunday but managed to stay upright, and publicly vented his frustration with Bouhanni after an exchange beyond the line. 

"Yo Nacer Bouhanni, I would ask you what you was thinking...but you clearly have no brain cells," he said, posting a video of the incident on social media.

"The ironic thing is, you told me I had 'no respect' after the finish. Here's an educational video of what 'no respect' looks like..."

Bouhanni has been involved in similar incidents before, notably suffering relegation for deviating from his line at Paris-Nice and the Hamburg Classic in 2016. The following year, he was criticised for a crash as won a stage at the Tour de l'Ain, and was sanctioned at the Tour de France for lashing out at another rider.

Neither Bouhanni nor his team have commented on Sunday's incident. 

Previously, he has noted that he has "the label of 'bad boy' that sticks to my skin" and that "when I move an ear, they are just waiting to punish me for it".

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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.