Nacer Bouhanni has hit out at racist abuse he has received after his incident with Jake Stewart at the recent Cholet-Pays de la Loire race.
Stewart and Bouhanni were contesting the final sprint when the Frenchman swung into his rival’s path, with the Brit somehow staying upright despite being forced into the barriers.
Bouhanni was disqualified for the incident but Stewart was furious, taking to social media afterwards to shame him, saying “you clearly have no brain cells”.
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The Frenchman hit back by telling his rival he should "give up sprinting" after the Brit suggested in a later interview that his life “flashed before his eyes” in the crash.
Bouhanni faces a sanction from the International Cycling Union (UCI), who have remained silent on the abuse on social media.
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"It's too much," the Arkea-Samsic sprinter told L'Equipe newspaper in a long interview. "It's already been eight days that I've been receiving hundreds of messages, it's turning into harassment.
"I'm not the only one who sees what happens on social networks. I'm not the only one who sees what happens on social media," continued Bouhanni, who added he was plagued by insomnia.
"It's like a scar that's closed. It has reopened little by little over the days, and that's what hurts. I was born in France, I love my country, I was French champion at 21, it was one of the most beautiful moments of my career when I was on the podium with La Marseillaise.
"French of North African origin, that's how it is."
Stewart has joined the backlash against the racist abuse, taking to social media on Tuesday to unite behind the 30-year-old.
“Despite our recent difference of opinion, let's be absolutely clear, I stand united with Nacer Bouhanni,” said Stewart.
“We will all agree and disagree on certain things, but one thing that should not be of question is racism.
“The comments and racism directed towards Nacer this last week is absolutely deplorable. There is no place for racism in this world. To the so called 'fans' of cycling that have made these comments, you are not welcome here.”
Bouhanni insisted he had never experienced racism in the peloton, but said it was something he had experienced away from competition.
"In the peloton, at least directly, I have never been a victim of racism, never. In the teams where I have been, I have never had any problems. I say live because afterwards, I am not there in people's minds. But out of competition, of course I have."
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