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Nacer Bouhanni speaks out over racist abuse after sprint cycling incident

The former French national road race champion Nacer Bouhanni has spoken out about the racist abuse he has suffered since being disqualified in a race last month.

Bouhanni was disqualified following an illegal move at the one-day Cholet-Pays de la Loire on 28 March. The UCI, cycling’s governing body, cited him for dangerous conduct after he pushed Jake Stewart into the barriers during the final sprint and referred the incident to its disciplinary commission.

The Arkea-Samsic team rider has since been subjected to a torrent of racist abuse and published screenshots of some of the messages he had received on social media.

“I was born in France. I love my country. I was French champion at the age of 21. When I was on the podium with La Marseillaise, it was one of the most beautiful moments in my career,” the 30-year-old said in an interview with L’Equipe. “It’s sad to read all this, people wanting me to end up in jail.”

Asked whether he had encountered racist attitudes in the predominantly white peloton, Bouhanni said it had never happened “directly” and he had never had any such issues within the various teams for whom he has competed.

Bouhanni, however, filed a lawsuit against Stef Clement after the former pro rider, who is now a pundit, claimed during the 2019 Tour de France that the French cyclist made his team pork-free and did not want to work with women on race days because of his religious beliefs.

“I received a lot of racist messages following these insinuations,” Bouhanni said. “I have filed a complaint, but I am still waiting for the justice [system] to get back to me.”

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