Nacer Bouhanni has been left out of the Cofidis line-up for the Tour de France despite winning five races in the past two months. Christophe Laporte will be Cofidis' sprinter at La Grande Boucle, while the team also features Daniel Navarro and Jesus Herrada.
Cofidis manager Cedric Vasseur had effectively announced Bouhanni's fate at Sunday's French championships road race, where he confirmed that Laporte would be the team's designated sprinter at the Tour. Laporte has won six races to date in 2018, most recently at the Tour of Luxembourg.
"Christophe Laporte will go to the Tour. Nacer Bouhanni, I don't know," Vasseur told L'Équipe on Sunday. "Is it good for Cofidis to field them both? What would we gain by selecting Nacer?
"We can't stake everything on the sprint at the Tour. We'll try to fight for the win in breaks. Christophe can participate there. Nacer, I don't believe so. We'll have a debrief with the directeurs sportifs this evening [Sunday] and I'll have a final meeting with [team president] Thierry Vittu tomorrow [Monday]."
On Monday afternoon, Cofidis formally confirmed its eight-man Tour team. Laporte, Herrada and Navarro will be joined in the squad by Dimitri Claeys, Nicolas Edet, Anthony Perez, Julien Simon and Anthony Turgis. It is expected that Bouhanni will line out at the Vuelta a España in August.
On taking the reins from Yvon Sanquer during the off-season, Vasseur made a point of reducing Bouhanni's lead-out train and opted not to keep his father, Karim Bouhanni, on the staff for 2018. Bouhanni topped the UCI Europe Tour rankings in two of his first three seasons at Cofidis, but failed to win a stage at the Tour de France.
Bouhanni cut a marginalised figure as he struggled for form in the early part of the season, but he scored his first win of the season when he claimed a stage of the Four Days of Dunkirk in May, and proceeded to win the GP Marcel Kint, two stages at Boucles de la Mayenne and a stage of the Route d'Occitanie.
Bouhanni's Route d'Occitanie stage win came after he resisted team orders to lead out Laporte in the sprint and instead beat his teammate into second place in Carmaux.
The 27-year-old Bouhanni has endured a trying relationship with the Tour de France. He was forced to abandon due to illness on his first start in 2013 and was again forced out in the opening week during his second appearance in 2015 after suffering a brace of crashes.
In 2016, Bouhanni was forced to miss the Tour after injuring his hand during an alteration with guests at his hotel on the eve of the French championships road race. Bouhanni rode and completed last year's Tour but was still suffering from injuries suffered in his crash at the Tour de Yorkshire. His best bunch sprint placing was a distant fourth on the Champs-Élysées.
The 2018 Tour de France gets underway in the Vendée on Saturday.
Cofidis for the Tour de France: Christophe Laporte, Dimitri Claeys, Nicolas Edet, Jésus Herrada, Daniel Navarro , Anthony Perez, Julien Simon, Anthony Turgis.
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