Nacer Bouhanni will miss the Tour de France for the third year in succession after revealing that he will not be part of the Arkéa-Samsic line-up for the race, which has been rescheduled to take place from August 29-September 20.
The Frenchman joined Arkéa-Samsic in the off-season after being left out of the Cofidis Tour selection in 2018 and 2019.
He began this year with stage wins at the Saudi Tour and Tour de la Provence, but he will not ride the 2020 Tour, where the Arkéa-Samsic team will be built around Nairo Quintana’s overall challenge.
"The Arkéa-Samsic team and I have made this decision," Bouhanni said on his team’s website.
"It’s a decision we made together and it’s been carefully considered. I quickly got used to the idea when the route of the 2020 Tour de France was unveiled. I quickly realised that it was aimed at the climbers above all.
"It’s clear, however, that I still dream of the Tour de France. Winning a stage there is still one of the big goals of my career. I know that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to express myself fully on this race, but that will come in the future. The Tour remains an objective for me, that’s obvious. It’s a race that inspires me."
The 29-year-old French rider has had an ill-starred relationship with the Tour throughout his career. He was forced to abandon through illness on his debut in 2013 and was then overlooked in favour of Arnaud Démare in 2014, which prompted his transfer from FDJ to Cofidis.
In 2015, Bouhanni abandoned the Tour in the opening week due to injuries sustained in crashes at the French Championships and in the opening stages. A year later, Bouhanni missed the Tour after breaking his hand in an altercation with a fellow hotel guest at the French Championships.
Bouhanni completed the Tour in 2017 but was short of his best form, having crashed heavily at the Tour de Yorkshire.
"I’ve spoken about it with [team manager] Emmanuel Hubert and this year the route doesn’t suit the sprinters," Bouhanni said of a route that sees the climbing began on the opening weekend in Nice.
"I’d rather have some opportunities in other races on this reorganised 2020 calendar instead of going to the Tour, where my chances to shine would be obviously reduced. If there had been seven or eight sprint stages on the route, the situation would have been different."
As Arkéa-Samsic have not been invited to any other Grand Tours in 2020, Bouhanni will not have an opportunity to add to his total of six stages wins at the Giro d’Italia or Vuelta a España. He listed Milan-San Remo (due to take place on either August 8 or 22) and the European Championships as objectives on the rearranged 2020 calendar.
"I should normally start again at the Vuelta a Burgos, and after that, I want to do a big month of August," Bouhanni said.
"I’d like to be in good condition right from the restart. There are of course a lot of very important races, like Milan-San Remo and the European Championships, which take place in Plouay."
Emmanuel Hubert praised Bouhanni for stepping aside from a Tour team that will be built around Quintana and will also feature Warren Barguil.
"I'm not surprised by Nacer's openness, because in just a few months I've got to know the man behind the rider really well," Hubert said.
"His intellectual honesty and professional spirit are to be praised."
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