Most professional cyclists are—by the standards of the alpha sportsman—not particularly intimidating. Descriptors you could use to describe pro cyclists range from “waif-thin insect person” to “cut, scrawny, and sunburnt.” However, French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni defies this, even if he’s 5-foot-9, 146 pounds.
That’s because he’s a former amateur boxer who claimed that he will retire from cycling early so that he can still have some of his athletic prime left to pursue a professional boxing career. Bouhanni once famously said, “Boxing is my passion, cycling is my job.” The dude has a sticker of a boxing glove emblazoned with the word “FIGHT” on it at the front of his helmet.
Last weekend, the night before/morning of the French national road race championships, a bunch of rowdy hotel guests in the room neighboring Bouhanni’s were getting raucous at 4 a.m. According to a press release from Bouhanni’s Cofidis team, “Nacer asked them to stop the nuisance and was then assaulted by these alcoholic people.” Bouhanni had to go to the emergency room and ended up getting four stitches in his hand. He started the race the next day, but dropped out after 40 kilometers.
However, Bouhanni certainly came out the winner in the fight, as he broke the teeth of one of the three drunks who tried to fight him, per L’Equipe. He went to the hospital again Tuesday, where he had to undergo surgery even though doctors confirmed he didn’t have a fracture. Yesterday morning his team announced that he would not be lining up at this weekend’s Tour de France.
This is a huge blow for Bouhanni and Cofidis. The French team’s best chance of getting a win was through their star sprinter, and now they have to recalibrate three days before the race starts. Bouhanni has had remarkably bad luck in the Tour. He has had to abandon with injuries twice, in 2013 and 2015, and he was very publicly passed over in 2014 despite coming in with great form.
Cofidis—who have more or less oriented their whole season around getting Bouhanni some stage wins at the Tour—are now unmoored and they’ll have to be opportunists instead of aggressors. As for Bouhanni, he’ll have to wait at least a year to get his revenge on Marc Madiot.