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French Arkea-Samsic sprinter Nacer Bouhanni has been the target of a torrent of racist insults on social media since his dangerous sprint in the Cholet-Pays de la Loire race on March 28. The 2012 French champion is preparing to file a complaint and confided in the Team on his report to racism in cycling.

“Go back to Africa.” Among others, it is one of the insults that most often comes up against Nacer Bouhanni, sprinter of the Breton team Arkea-Samsic. However, the cyclist is French: born in Épinal, in the Vosges, in 1990, he even wore the French champion’s jersey for a season after his coronation in 2012. Once again the target of racist insults on social networks , he will file a complaint and agreed to engage in the columns of the Team, in an interview published Tuesday, April 6.

“There is way too much,” said team sprinter Arkea-Samsic. “I’ve been receiving hundreds of messages for eight days now, it’s turning into harassment.”

“I’m still not the only one who sees what’s going on on social media. Why does nobody do anything when these kind of filthy people are constantly sending me ‘pigs’ or’ terrorists’, ‘go back to your dirty Maghreb country ‘? “asks Bouhanni.

A dangerous sprint

At the origin of this new wave of harassment, there is a dangerous sprint on the part of the rider of the Arkea-Samsic formation. During the Cholet-Pays de la Loire race on March 28, Nacer Bouhanni crushed the Briton Jake Stewart along the barriers, a fault which led to his disqualification in this sprint won by the Italian Elia Viviani. The Groupama-FDJ rider had his hand fractured in the accident.

Under the shock of disappointment, Stewart reacted vigorously after the race by attacking Bouhanni on Twitter: “I would ask you what you were thinking … but you have nothing in your head. Which is ironic, is that you told me that I had ‘no respect’ after the arrival “.

“I want to say that I am sorry for Jake Stewart”, explained the Lorraine rider of the Arkea-Samsic team. “I see Elia Viviani launch and I want to take his wake. I admit my mistake was to change course to go take his wheel. I don’t see Jake Stewart at that point. When we enter the one and the other in contact, I find myself unbalanced and catch up with myself as best I can so as not to fall. “

A complaint filed

The case could have ended there with these excuses and a possible future sanction from the International Cycling Union (UCI), but the waves of racist insults began. On Monday, the runner announced he would file a complaint.

“Hello to all the little jokers who have been having fun for a week writing to me personally or commenting on certain cycling sites that I should return to Africa, that I am a criminal, that I am a Maghreb who needs being interned and who constantly send me (pig’s heads)! “, said the native of Épinal (Lorraine) on his Instagram account. “Know that I was born in France and that I will file a complaint because it has been a long time since I endure it and keep silent but, this time, I will not let it go.”

To back up his point, the sprinter from the Arkea-Samsic team provided an accompaniment to several messages received, in different languages.

“Nacer Bouhanni has been undergoing violent racist attacks for more than a week, especially on social networks. He has decided to file a complaint,” confirmed his team which “strongly denounces these acts and gives its full support” to the Vosges runner .

His best moment: the Marseillaise on the podium

Usually not very talkative on the subject of racism in the bicycle, the sprinter gave a long interview to the Team. In this interview, he takes care of clearing the cycling community.

“In the peloton, in any case directly, I have never been a victim of racism, in any case. In the teams where I have been, I have never had a problem. I say live because afterwards, I am not there in the minds of people. But out of competition, of course I received some “, explains the champion of France 2012.

Thus Jake Stewart, the runner victim of his error during the sprint in Cholet, wanted to show his support for Bouhanni.

“Despite our recent dispute, I want to be absolutely clear, I fully support Nacer Bouhanni. We can agree or disagree on some things, but what it should never be about is racism,” tweeted the Briton. “The comments and racism against Nacer last week are absolutely deplorable. There is no room for racism in the world. To the so-called cycling ‘fans’ who made those comments, you are not welcome here. “

In July 2019, Nacer Bouhanni had already received a first wave of insults after insinuations from a former Dutch rider, Stef Clement, who, having become a consultant, had insinuated that the rider had banned meals containing pork in his team and the presence of women in the staff. Insinuations with Islamophobic overtones which had pushed Nacer Bouhanni to file a complaint for defamation. But the runner is still waiting for an investigation to be opened.

Regarding racism, the runner believes today that “it is like a scar which is closed”. “It reopened little by little over the days, and that’s what hurts,” says the Vosges in the Team. “I was born in France, I love my country, I was champion of France at 21, it was one of the most beautiful moments of my career when I was on the podium with La Marseillaise”.

“My parents have always refused to talk to me about racism. To protect me. Since the age of six, my father has been with me in cycling, it is thanks to him that I was able to get there, otherwise I would have stopped, because I had moments of fed up young too “, he explains.

Nacer Bouhanni, however, managed to isolate himself from criticism to rebound from Sunday April 4 at the Tourangelle Wheel, where he took second place behind his compatriot Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ). He will be in the peloton which will participate in the GP de l’Escaut on Wednesday.


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