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“My goals will be Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo which is the Classic I clearly target, the Critérium du Dauphiné, the French Championships, the Tour de France and later in the season we will have the World Championships tha...

Photo: Sirotti


30.11.2015 @ 15:08 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The second part of his season was partly destroyed by crashes. However, when drawing the balance, Nace Bouhanni is bar far the most prolific French rider of 2015. Victorious eleven times, the Cofidis leader took on his new status and handled the pressure that accompanied his move to his new team. Nevertheless, he has some regrets.


“Despite everything that happened to me, despite all my crashes, I think it's still a good record,” he told when asked about his season. “There were eleven wins, including two at the Dauphiné, the Coupe de France, the Europe Tour. Let's say that the season is over. It is a pity that I have not had too much luck at my major goals but it's like that. 


”I'm not someone who riders to get a specific number of victories. I do my best in every event in which I participate. The goal is always to win races, good races, including WorldTour races. I've won two this year. Last year, I won seven. But I also had some great results like sixth in my first Milan-San Remo.”


Despite the successful debut, Bouhanni has regrets regarding the Italian classic.


“There are a lot of regrets,” he said. “I finished sixth but three riders were on the same line in fight for the podium. I was very badly positioned at the start of the sprint, 200 meters from the line. It was my fault. I still remember the positives though. It was my first major Classic because I did none at FDJ. So to finish sixth is promising because this is a race that I like and that I think suits me.”


This year Bouhanni failed to win a stage in a grand tour as he crashed out of both the Tour and the Vuelta.


“I never did more than one week of racing in the Tour, I've never did a bunch sprint there,” he said. “This is the biggest regret of my early career. I still finished sixth in the cobbled stage. Unfortunately, I crashed the next day when Cavendish won (Greipel won the fifth stage, ed.) In the Vuelta, I was second behind Sagan. It's like that. It has not been a year with success in the major objectives.”


That included the French Championships where Bouhanni was brought down by former teammate Anthony Roux on the finishing straight.


“It really is very big disappointment this season,” he said. If I had the title of French champion, it would be twelve victories including the blue-white-red jersey. And that changes everything. It is from the French Championships that fate turned against me. I had not crashed once before that and then it just went from there.


“It started in the French Championships where I was the only one to crash. But then I got caught in the crashes with forty guys. In the Tour, I first slid out in a roundabout without incident. When I crashed again, it was with 30-40 riders. It was the same for the Vuelta. I was in the crash with Nibali, for example. Each time the crashes involved many riders. It was not a matter of confidence, otherwise I would not have continued to win.”


“From the French Championships, it was a race against the clock. It was very hard. You had to be mentally strong to return each time. I was busier with the recovery than anything else. Anyway, even when you return, we are never 100% after a crash. But that is part of a career. I take out the positive because despite everything that happened to me, I still take to win eleven victories. This is the maximum I could do.”


Bouhanni also crashed at the World Championships.


“I only crashed once, not three [as has been reported],” he said. “Then in the race itself, I hit the last climb on Arnaud’s [Demare] wheel. Van Avermaet and Sagan accelerated. I passed and I found myself in the wheel of Degenkolb. Unfortunately, Sagan, Van Avermaet and Boasson Hagen were still a few metres ahead. With Degenkolb, we were looking at each other and they were gone. I did everything and was not able to get back before the finish which was just two kilometers away. You had to either go for the win or save something for the minor placings.”


Bouhanni has no doubt about what is his best memory from 2015.


“My two stages of the Critérium du Dauphiné,” he said. “Obviously because of the level but also because after a difficult start, everything started to go well. Everything was working properly at that time. I will especially point to the second victory when Julien Simon led the pack to catch Tony Gallopin inside the final kilometre. It was a beautiful victory, a collective victory.”


Despite the missed opportunities, Bouhanni has extended his contract with Cofidis.


“I have shown that in spite of my bad luck, I was there from February to October,” he said. “I always gave the maximum. In previous seasons, I won much earlier in the season. Of course it took more time, I joined a new team, we had to find the automatisms, I had to find the train that suited me best. Now I am very confident in the nucleus around me. And it is very important to trust your teammates 100%.”


Bouhanni has now turned his attention to 2016.


“It will be the same as this year,” he said. “My goals will be Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo which is the Classic I clearly target, the Critérium du Dauphiné, the French Championships, the Tour de France and later in the season we will have the World Championships that suit me much better than this year. The objective is also to win earlier.”


Bouhanni is not focused on his rival sprinters.


“I do not care,” he said. “I focus on myself, it's already enough. Each takes his own direction and does what he has to do. I will not take care of why someone changed teams and if it will go well for him or not.”


Next year Bouhanni will be joined by his brother Rayane at Cofidis.


“I am happy and proud to be professional in the same colors as him,” he said. “I hope it will go well and that it will be a great adventure. It is true that he is young. He is only nineteen years old. I was twenty when I turned pro. He must learn slowly. He will not race in the WorldTour in his first season as a pro. We may ride together again, especially late in the season, maybe early in the year too, but I will have a program focused on the WorldTour.”



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