Guillaume Martin couldn’t say the whole peloton is clean after the Tour de France 2020.
The Cofidis rider, who ended the Tour as the best-placed French rider overall, said that every year the yellow jersey winner faces suspicion; “the price of the sport’s troubled past.”
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Martin said he tries not to be suspicious of his rivals for fear of getting discouraged, but he added he “wouldn’t put his hand in the fire” and say the whole is peloton is clean.
The 27-year-old told French newspaper Le Parisien: “I can’t allow myself to have doubts and say to myself ‘I’m 11th but he’s suspicious or he’s suspicious’, otherwise I’ll get too discouraged.
“I’m not naive – I wouldn’t put my hand in the fire to say that the whole peloton is clean.”
Martin had ridden strongly in the opening two weeks of the Tour, finishing third on stage four to Orcières-Merlette and sitting third overall after stage 12.
But he began to struggle in the second half of the week, slipping outside the top-10 on the road to Puy Mary and finishing the race in 11th place by Paris.
The Tour ended in remarkable fashion, with Tadej Pogačar stealing back two minutes on the final time trial to overtake Primož Roglič, who had been in control for much of the race.
Martin said: “Every year the winner of the Tour is suspect – this is the price of the sport’s troubled past. One has to live with it.”
The Tour was also hit by suspicion in the final week, as Arkéa-Samsic’s team hotel was raided and two staff members were taken into custody (they’ve since been released).
After the Tour finished in Paris, news emerged that environment and public health officers had reportedly confiscated injection equipment, while Nairo Quintana and his brother Dayer were voluntarily interviewed by police.
Quintana has denied any wrongdoing and said the substances found were vitamin supplements.
But Martin believes cycling can get past the doping accusations: “The Tour recovers from everything. It recovered from Covid-19 when we said it wouldn’t take place.
“I believe in human optimism – even a new ‘dirty trick’ wouldn’t bring it down.”