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VN news ticker: Nacer Bouhanni apologizes for sprint contact; no Tour of Flanders for Philippe Gilbert

Here's what's making headlines on Monday, March 29.

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Nacer Bouhanni says sprint contact was not intentional

French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic) issued a public apology for bumping into Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) in Sunday’s Cholet-Pays de la Loire, but insisted the contact was not intentional.

Also read: UCI orders review of Bouhanni sprint

Bouhanni was disqualified after finishing third behind winner Elia Viviani (Cofidis). The UCI has since ordered its disciplinary panel to review the high-profile incident that has gone viral online.

“I want to say I’m sorry for Jake Stewart,” Bouhanni said in a team release. “The sprint went like this: I saw Viviani launch, and I wanted to take his slipstream. I admit that my mistake was to change course to take his wheel. I don’t see Jake Stewart at that moment. When we made contact with each other, I found myself off-balanced and I caught myself as best I could so as not to crash. I just wanted to take the slipstream because the wind was coming from the front and right side — by no means was it intentional.”

Philippe Gilbert will skip Tour of Flanders

Following a disappointing Milan-Sanremo and abandons at the E3 Saxo Bank Classic and Gent-Wevelgem, the 2017 Tour of Flanders winner Philippe Gilbert will take a period of necessary rest, team officials confirmed Monday.

Lotto-Soudal officials said Gilbert, 38, needs a break both “physically and mentally.” Officials said Gilbert hopes to be back for the Ardennes classics, signaling that he will also likely skip Paris-Roubaix as well.

“We decided with the team that I would take a period of rest now because it is not going well at all,” Gilbert said “It’s been a few weeks now that things haven’t been going well. We took the time to analyze everything there was to discuss, and we came to the conclusion that it is a lack of mental and physical freshness.

“I think it is due to all the work I did after my crash at the Tour de France last year,” Gilbert said. “I am still human. I put in a lot of work, without any decent rest really, because during the weeks off the bike, I was working hard with the physiotherapist or other specialists. At the time, I’ve had a bad diagnosis of the knee. We didn’t really realize how serious that second crash was. In the end, it was much more serious than we initially thought. Maybe I should have stopped my 2020 season at that point.”