Two riders have separately alleged that Milan-San Remo winner Arnaud Démare took a tow from an FDJ team car up the Cipressa climb during Saturday’s race.
In a report published by Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, Matteo Tosatto (Tinkoff) and Eros Capecchi (Astana) both allege that Démare came past them on the Cipressa climb, appearing to either be holding on to the car or a bottle being held out of its window.
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According to Gazzetta, president of the race jury Hervé Brocque has been made aware of the allegations, but no photographic or video evidence has been produced to confirm them.
Démare told French paper L’Equipe that he had done nothing wrong, saying: “There are referees in cycling. If I had done something forbidden, I would have been disqualified.”
Démare was one of a number of riders caught up in a crash just before the Cipressa, which appears around 20km before the finish line. Several riders were forced to chase back up to the peloton, including Démare, Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) and Peter Kennaugh (Sky).
Démare has uploaded his winning Milan-San Remo ride to his Strava account, which shows that he ascended the Cipressa at a quick pace, taking the Strava KOM for the segment.
It shows that Démare rode the climb quicker than everyone else who uploaded files from the race, including those in the peloton. This is not evidence of any wrongdoing.
Démare’s stats on the Poggio climb just before the finish also put him in the top 10 Strava times for this ascent.
If the allegations are found to have any foundation, getting a tow from a team car is an offence that carries a stiff penalty, as Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) found out during the 2015 Vuelta a España. The Italian hung on to the team car on stage two as he tried to ride back up to the peloton after a crash, and was captured by television cameras doing so. He was subsequently disqualified from the race.