Can Strava data silence Demare doubters?

  • By Gregor Brown
  • Published Mar. 21, 2016
  • Updated Mar. 21, 2016 at 3:20 PM EDT
Arnaud Démare's monumental Sanremo win has been overshadowed by accusations that he took a tow from a team car. Photo: Tim De Waele |

MILAN (VN) — Frenchman Arnaud Démare should have been enjoying the days following his Milano-Sanremo victory Saturday, but instead he’s defending against accusations that he had a tow over the Cipressa climb. He says his Strava data proves that he raced correctly.

Démare sprinted ahead of Englishman Ben Swift (Sky) in the sun-soaked Ligurian coastal town of Sanremo. He gave France its first monument win in 19 years, since Laurent Jalabert won the Giro di Lombardia in 1997.

Not long after, Italians Matteo Tosatto (Tinkoff) and Eros Capecchi (Astana) complained that Démare had help from FDJ’s team car to rejoin the race over the Cipressa climb following his crash at 30 kilometers to go. Tosatto said that he passed at double the speed, thanks to the tow, and Capecchi estimated he was traveling at 80kph.

“I have done nothing wrong,” Démare said in a L’Equipe newspaper article entitled “Polémique sur la Cipressa.” “There are judges in cycling. If I had done something forbidden, I would have been disqualified.”

He posted his Strava file, which at first disappeared from the GPS-tracking website for some hours, and shows how he stacked up against 34 others cyclists who posted from Milano-Sanremo.

“I wasn’t obliged to justify things, but I put my data on Strava. You can see that I didn’t touch 80kph as has been said. That should shut everyone up, and I’m going to fully enjoy my victory which I won with my own legs,” added Démare.

“I crashed, and I had the commissaire’s motor with me. If I’d cheated, I’d have been penalized. Vincenzo Nibali was heavily sanctioned during the last Vuelta a España, so I wouldn’t have taken the risk of losing the biggest race of my career.

“I sense a little jealousy from some of our rivals after our third place in the team time trial at Tirreno. This story won’t spoil my moment of pleasure.”

The data proves he never touched 80kph, but 52.5kph. He earned the KOM for the 5.65-kilometer Cipressa climb and averaged 37.7kph, faster than Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) who attacked over the top with Ian Stannard (Sky).

“Strava has averages and there is a margin of error,” said Fred Grappe, FDJ’s director of performance. “I downloaded the data from Arnaud’s SRM power meter, and I can promise you, it shows nothing abnormal. He never exceeded 48kph. So it’s true, it was a golden day, it was close to his maximum.”

The Strava data also show his golden day continued on the last climb to the Poggio hillside town overlooking the sea and Sanremo finish line. Back with the group after Cipressa, he climbed 11th fastest on the day (of those who uploaded) up the Poggio climb.

Last year, the UCI jury saw Nibali’s famous tow via a video after stage 2 and kicked him out of the Vuelta a España. Earlier this season, some riders made accusations that another Frenchman, Nacer Bouhanni, was pushed up a hill, by his teammates, en route to a stage win at Ruta del Sol.

FILED UNDER: News / Road TAGS: /

Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown

Bikes kept Gregor Brown out of trouble growing up in Oklahoma — BMX, freestyle and then watching Greg LeMond's Tour de France wins on CBS television's weekend highlights shows. The drama of the 1998 Tour, however, truly drew him into the fold. With a growing curiosity in European races and lifestyle, he followed his heart and established camp on Lake Como's shores in 2004. Brown has been following the Giro, the Tour and every major race in Europe since 2006. He will tell you it is about the "race within the race" – punching out the news and running to finish – but he loves a proper dinner, un piatto tipico ed un vino della zona.

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