French cyclist Nacer Bouhanni speaks out about racist abuse

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BRUSSELS — Nacer Bouhanni’s haters don’t care that he is a former French cycling champion, or even that he was born and raised in France.

The Arkea-Samsic team rider has been subjected to a torrent of racist insults over the past week, many of them urging him to leave France and go to Africa.

Bouhanni has decided it’s time to speak out.

“Know that I was born in France and that I will file a complaint because I’ve been enduring this and kept silent for too long, but this time I will not let go,” he wrote this week.

Bouhanni, a hot-tempered rider with an history of race incidents, was disqualified following an illegal move at the one-day Cholet-Pays de la Loire on March 28. Cycling governing body UCI 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.

Bouhanni admitted his mistake but said the move was not intentional. Since then, racist insults have been flying.

Bouhanni, a rider with North African heritage who won the French national championships in 2012, published screenshots of some of the messages he has received. His team has released a statement, saying it “deplores and strongly denounces all these acts of racism.”

In an interview with L’Equipe newspaper published Tuesday, Bouhanni said he has been abused throughout his career. He said he did not speak out earlier because the topic remains a “taboo,” and for fear he would appear like someone trying to victimize himself.

But the latest series of insults – some of them calling him to a “terrorist” – were too much too take.

“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,” said the 30-year-old rider. “It’s sad to read all this, people wanting me to end up in jail.”

Asked whether he also suffered from 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 he rode for.

Bouhanni, however, filed a lawsuit against Stef Clement after the former pro rider-turned-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.”

Giro d’Italia to start on former railway line in Abruzzo

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L’AQUILA, Italy — The 2023 edition of the Giro d’Italia will start with an individual time trial on a coastal cycle path that has been recreated from a former railway line in the region of Abruzzo.

At a ceremony in the Abruzzo capital of L’Aquila, race organizers announced that the Grand Tour will run from May 6-28 and begin with an 18.4-kilometer (11.4-mile) time trial on the Adriatic coast.

Almost the entire time trial will be on the spectacular Costa dei Trabocchi cycle path that hugs the coast line before a short climb to the finish in Ortona.

“I am excited at the idea of the Grande Partenza (Big Start) of the Giro in Abruzzo . It is a dream come true, especially with regard to the prologue on the Costa dei Trabocchi,” said Trek-Segafredo cyclist Dario Cataldo, who is from the region.

“I well remember that when the cycle path project was born and I saw the first tracks, I imagined the beauty of a Giro d’Italia passing along the route. It looked perfect.”

Stage 2 is a 204-kilometer (127-mile) leg from Teramo to San Salvo that is hilly in the first part but expected to end in a bunch sprint.

Stage 3 will also start in the Abruzzo region, in Vasto, but it will then head south and will be detailed when the full route is revealed on Oct. 17 in Milan.

The Giro will also return to the region for Stage 7, a daunting climb on the Gran Sasso d’Italia to Campo Imperatore. The high mountain stage, on May 12, will be the edition’s first finish above 2,000 meters.

Australian Jai Hindley won this year’s Giro.

Norway takes gold-medal lead at world road cycling titles

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WOLLONGONG, Australia – Soren Waerenskjold repeated Norway’s gold medal success at the world road cycling championships a day after Tobias Foss finished first in the elite men’s time trial.

Waerenskjold won the men’s under-23 time trial on the second day of the championships with a dominant performance. He clocked 34 minutes, 13.40 seconds over the 28.8-kilometer course to beat Belgian Alec Segaert by 16.34 seconds.

British rider Leo Hayter, the younger brother of elite rider Ethan Hayter, was 24.16 seconds off the pace for the bronze medal.

Foss beat a strong field to win the elite time trial, the biggest win of his career.

Norway has two gold medals, while Dutch ace Ellen van Dijk beat Australian Grace Brown to take out the women’ elite time trial.

The mixed relay time trial is set for Wednesday. The championships conclude on the weekend with the women’s road race on Saturday and the men’s on Sunday.