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UCI moves to punish Nacer Bouhanni for dangerous sprint

Jake Stewart calls out Frenchman for wayward move that overshadowed Elia Viviani's victory.

Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic), who was disqualified Sunday for a dangerous sprint at Cholet-Pays de la Loire, could see more punishment.

In the wake of Sunday’s high-profile contact involving Groupama-FDJ sprinter Jake Stewart, the UCI moved Monday to consider further action. The cycling governing body said it will push for review by its disciplinary panel.

“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) firmly condemns the dangerous conduct of the rider Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkéa-Samsic), who pushed Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) into the barriers during the final sprint,” a UCI statement read. “The UCI has decided to refer the incident to its Disciplinary Commission and demand the imposition of sanctions that are appropriate to the seriousness of this action.”

The incident reignited an online debate about dangerous sprinting as well as safety measures and UCI rules about sprint finishes.

Elia Viviani (Cofidis) won for the first time since September 2019, but it was what happened behind him that created a stir.

Bouhanni was coming off the wheel of a teammate and moved into Jake Stewart on his left. Bouhanni shoulder-checked the British sprinter into the fences. The Groupama-FDJ rider was able to stay upright, and the quality of the fencing was such that they did not collapse or provoke a worsening of the high-speed tension.

Also read: Nacer Bouhanni out to prove he’s still a force in sprinting

Bouhanni crossed the line third and was later disqualified by the race jury.

The UCI’s move on Monday could see the French sprinter possibly banned from competition by the UCI’s disciplinary panel.

There was no immediate reaction from Bouhanni, who has been a protagonist in a few high-profile run-ins throughout his career. Arkéa-Samsic officials did not address the incident in its team release.

Stewart took to social media to voice his concerns.

“I would ask you were thinking, but clearly you have no brain cells,” Stewart wrote on Twitter after finishing 29th. “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.”

The incident sparked an online debate, with several fans commenting on Stewart’s Twitter post.

Also read: UCI to introduce new safety measures

Some called for more stringent action to be taken against Bouhanni and compared the situation to what happened during the opening stage in last year’s Tour of Poland.

Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) was later banned for nine months after sending Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) into the fences. Jakobsen nearly died after fencing collapsed and he struck the finish-line post at high speed.

Jumbo-Visma general manager Richard Plugge responded to comments and tried to temper frayed nerves.

“Wrath is never the answer,” Plugge wrote. “Wisdom, leadership, good safety measures (barriers were good here) and consistent refereeing is what (our) sport needs.”