Alberto Contador has called rumours that he was using a motorised bike in the Giro d’Italia ‘ridiculous’, after a French journalist made the accusation.
L’Equipe’s chief cycling writer Philippe Brunel claims that Contador hadn’t actually punctured when he changed a rear wheel with Ivan Basso after the descent from Aprica on stage 16.
Having been dropped initially to change his wheel, Contador got going again and sped past everyone to finish third, nearly three minutes ahead of Fabio Aru. Basso, meanwhile, was able to put in Contador’s wheel and continue without waiting for the team car, according to Brunel.
“It seems ridiculous that someone might think you‘re going to put a motor on a bicycle in your career,” Contador is quoted as saying in Spanish newspaper AS.
L’ Équipe insists today: “The Spaniard won his second Giro, ahead of Fabio Aru, altered by its ‘fake’ puncture on the descent from the Aprica last Tuesday.”
Going on to explain: “Contador tells of how Basso had given him his wheel. But the Italian should have finished, logically, at the edge of the road with the wheel in his hand (according to Contador, because of a nail, as Oleg Tinkov posted that night on Twitter in a photo), but he resumed the route without waiting for your technical car.”
It concluded: “Contador, therefore, did not have a puncture, simply changed the wheel.“
Contador was one of the riders whose bike was tested for hidden motors after stage 18, two days later, but clearly nothing was found.
The Spaniard and his bike manufacturer Specialized insisted there was no foul play, but gave El Pistolero a motorised mountain bike to ride after the finish of the final stage.
Motorised doping hit the headlines after the publication of the CIRC report earlier in the year, when a number of riders claimed that rivals were using enhanced bikes in races.
In last year’s Vuelta a España, Ryder Hesjedal’s bike came under scrutiny when it appeared to move on its own after the Canadian fell off.