Bouhanni joins Quintana at ambitious Arkea-Samsic

'I am not a bad boy,' said Nacer Bouhanni of his reputation built on incidents such as the sprint finish to a Paris-Nice stage in 2016 when he swerved into Michael Matthews and was disqualified (AFP Photo/KENZO TRIBOUILLARD)
'I am not a bad boy,' said Nacer Bouhanni of his reputation built on incidents such as the sprint finish to a Paris-Nice stage in 2016 when he swerved into Michael Matthews and was disqualified (AFP Photo/KENZO TRIBOUILLARD)

Paris (AFP) - French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni on Wednesday followed Nairo Quintana and signed for Arkea-Samsic, a second-tier cycling team with ambitions to challenge the top teams in the world.

Bouhanni, a former French champion with a reputation for ill discipline, has won nothing since taking a stage in the Four Days of Dunkirk in May 2017. At 29 he is leaving Cofidis after five seasons of mixed results.

"Nacer Bouhanni will be our number one sprinter," said Emmanuel Hubert, the general manager of Arkea-Samsic.

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"He has been through two difficult years, he must regain his confidence and build an understanding with his lead-out men."

The Breton team, who have just lost German sprinter Andre Greipel, say they want to create a "sprinter unit" around Bouhanni, who signed a two-year contract, and have also signed British rider Daniel McLay as a leadout man.

"We know that 70 per cent of races are sprinting," Hubert said. "We had to strengthen in this area."

"In 2020, we want to be seen as a WorldTour team."

The team already have a strong group of climbers with Frenchman Warren Barguil, their loan star last season, joined by Quintana, a former winner of the Giro and Vuelta, who arrived with Italian Diego Rosa, fellow Colombian Winner Anacona and younger brother Dayer Quintana.

Bouhanni, who has 18 WorldTour victories said this was "a new start".

"I'm going to start next season as if I've never won anything."

Speaking of his reputation for causing problems, Bouhanni said: "I'm an individual, I won't deny it, but I think that this is the case for all top athletes."

"I have made mistakes in my career, sometimes in communication, sometimes in behaviour, but I am not a bad boy."

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