French cyclist Bouhanni fires back at racist 'jokers' on Instagram

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French rider Nacer Bouhanni (AFP)
French rider Nacer Bouhanni (AFP)
Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

Former French road race champion Nacer Bouhanni has hit back at a flurry of racist insults following his penalisation for a shoulder charge on British rider Jake Stewart.

Bouhanni's team Arkea-Samsic gave their rider full support and said he planned to take legal action.

The 30-year-old sprinter announced his intentions to sue on Instagram after a period of media pressure spilt over into personal abuse following the March 28 incident at the Cholet-Pays de Loire race where Stewart broke his hand when forced into railings.

READ | Thierry Henry quits social media over 'toxic' racism, abuse

On the evening of the race Stewart posted a video of the incident on Twitter with a furious comment.

"Yo @BouhanniNacer I would ask you what you was thinking... but you clearly have no brain cells. The ironic thing is, you told me I had 'no respect' after the finish. Here's an educational video of what 'no respect' looks like..."

The UCI then "strongly condemned the dangerous conduct" of Bouhanni in the sprint finish, which he denied. The incident sparked lively debate however.

"Hello to all the little jokers who have been having fun for a week writing to me personally or commenting on some cycling sites that I should go back to Africa, that I am a criminal, that I am a north African who needs to be interned and who constantly send me (pig's heads)!" Bouhanni said on his Instagram account.

Bouhanni was referring to the emojis (picture-words) of a pig's face that have featured in some of the messages on social media.

"Know that I was born in France and that I will file a complaint because I've been putting up with this too long and held my silence, this time, I will not let go," said Bouhanni.

The exasperated rider backed up his claims with a series of screen shots showing examples of the abuse he has received.

"Nacer Bouhanni has suffered violent attacks of a racist nature over the past week, mainly on social media," his team said Monday.

"He has decided to take legal action and we offer hm our full support," the French team said.

Bouhanni has 69 victories, including three Giro d'Italia stages and three in the Vuelta a Espana, but his career has been marked by altercations.

On 2017 Tour de France, he was fined for hitting New Zealander Jack Bauer and later that season he had to be pulled off compatriot Rudy Barbieri who had just won Paris-Bourges.

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