Road

No Tour for Nacer Bouhanni

Combative French sprinter agrees to step aside to make room for Quintana's run for the final podium in Paris.

Nacer Bouhanni and his quest for a Tour de France stage victory will have to wait another year. The French sprinter at Arkéa-Samsic said this year’s Tour route is simply too mountainous for him.

The arrival of podium candidate Nairo Quintana coupled with the climb-heavy Tour route made it an easy choice.

“We’ve made the decision that I will skip the 2020 Tour de France,” Bouhanni said Friday. “I realized as soon as I saw the route that it was one for climbers. I still dream of the Tour. It’s always been one of my top career goals to win a Tour stage. I still haven’t had the opportunity to fully express myself at the Tour, but I know one day it will come. The Tour remains a goal — it’s a race that inspires me.”

Bouhanni, 29, has won stages at both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, but has never won a stage in three Tour starts. In fact, for a sprinter who has won 67 career victories, his best result in Tour sprints came in 2017, with fourth in stage 4 and 21, respectively.

By skipping the Tour, that means Bouhanni won’t be racing in a grand tour in 2020. Arkéa-Samsic, racing at the second-tier ProTeam series, was not invited to race the Giro or Vuelta. He slated the European championship and such races as Milano-Sanremo and GP Plouay as his top goals for the abbreviated 2020 calendar.

Team manager Emmanuel Hubert said the decision to not bring Bouhanni to the Tour came after honest discussions among riders and staff.

“Nacer was honest, and he wasn’t trying to get a spot on the Tour team at any cost,” Hubert said. “He quickly offered himself to other goals realizing that the 2020 Tour was one designed for climbers. Since we have two strong climbers, with Nairo and Warren [Barguil], I was not surprised by Nacer’s frankness.”

Arkéa-Samsic is hoping to build on the early-season momentum from Quintana, who looks back to form following his departure from Movistar. The Colombian is planning to make a run for the final podium in Paris at the rescheduled Tour, set to run August 29 to September 20.