Milan-San Remo winner Arnaud Démare has rubbished claims that he got a tow from an FDJ team car up the Cipressa climb during the race on Saturday.
The 24-year-old Frenchman was accused by Italian riders Matteo Tosatto (Tinkoff) and Eros Capecchi (Astana) of holding on to a team car as he attempted to catch back up with the peloton up the Cipressa after being caught in a crash.
Speaking to France 2 television to answer the allegations, Démare said: “I saw these little claims from the two Italians. You have bad sports and sore losers in all sports, I crashed, there was the race commissaire’s motorbike which was alongside me, so if I had cheated I would have been penalised.
“There was the case of [Vincenzo] Nibali in the Vuelta [a España] last year so I would have never run the risk of losing my biggest victory in my career.”
Démare went on to say that he thinks there are some sour grapes after he beat the Italian opposition in their own country in one of the nation’s biggest races. His was the first French victory in Milan-San Remo since Laurent Jalabert in 1995.
“I think they are obviously very disappointed that for the first time in 25 years a young Frenchman, 24-years-old, has come along and won on the Via Roma, in their backyard,” said Démare.
Despite a search for photographic or video evidence of Démare holding on to a team car during the race, none has been forthcoming. President of the Milan-San Remo race jury Hervé Brocque is aware of the allegations, but no action has been taken without supporting evidence.
Some have called for Démare to publish his race data, including power figures, to try and prove that he did not take a tow. Démare published his ride on Strava, where it has been picked over by the media and race fans to try and detect any anomaly.
What the Strava ride data shows is that he ascended Cipressa very quickly, faster than any other rider who uploaded their data to Strava from the race – something that you may expect from a someone chasing hard to catch up with the peloton.
However, Capecchi’s claim that Démare passed him ‘doing 80kmh’ on the Cipressa is clearly dispelled by the Strava stats.
“I don’t think that I am obliged to justify myself but later I put my file on Strava, fans can see that there is no spike in speed at 80kmh like has been claimed.
“I know that my victory was won ‘a la pedale’ [honestly] and it’s a real pride to be able to succeed like that, following Laurent Jalabert, it’s really super for French cycling.”