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Watch: Bouhanni outsprints teammate as Cofidis tensions rise

Joe Robinson
15 Jun 2018

Rider unsure of place at Tour de France as he battles his own teammates for race victory. Image - La Route d'Occitanie twitter

The relationship between French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni and his Cofidis team went from bad to worse yesterday despite his victory on Stage 1 of La Route d'Occitanie after he outsprinted his own teammate Christophe Laporte to the win.

Tensions between Bouhanni and Cofidis have been high all season with several incidents involving the rider and his sport directors Roberto Damiani and Cedric Vassuer, with one said to have allegedly become physical at the Eschborn-Frankfurt race.

The team then publicly announced that the sprinter would not be secured a spot at the Tour de France and would have to earn his place at races such as the ongoing La Route d'Occitanie.

Bouhanni secured his fifth victory of the season into Segala Carmaux on a tough, draggy finish to the line, however it was far from plain sailing as his nearest competitor ended up being teammate Laporte.

Both went for the victory with Bouhanni's bike throw being the deciding factor.

As both riders came to a stop, they exchanged words amongst before riding off in different directions.

While preparing to take to the podium Bouhanni then spoke to Eurosport on the sprint victory and the tensions within camp.

'I'm really happy to win today, in conditions that were not easy for me,' he said.

'It's very complicated within the Cofidis team. There are things going on internally that I do not want to talk about in public. I keep this for myself.

'I do not have much to say.'

These issues were then exacerbated by team director Christian Guiberteau who spoke to French newspaper L'Equipe stating that the team's intentions before the race were that Bouhanni would work for Laporte.

Fellow Frenchman Laporte has also secured five victories this season and has quickly surpassed Bouhanni as Cofidis's number one sprinter.

Earlier in the season, a win at tough one-day race Tro-Bro Leon and fourth place at Gent-Wevelgem proved his ability.

With the start of the Tour just 22 days away, the chances of Bouhanni taking to the startline in Noirmoutier-en-l'Ile seem unlikely unless major changes in the relationship of rider and team take place.

Cofidis, of course, have the option of taking both Bouhanni and Laporte but only one would be supported on sprint stages and with the current lay of the land that looks to be Laporte.

Image credit - La Route d'Occitanie twitter page

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