The Moment The Race Was Won : Milan-Sanremo

Saturday, 19 March 2016

In a race that’s always uncertain this was a vintage finish with attacks over the Poggio, moves on the descent and more attacks on the way into Sanremo. Even the sprint finish was uncertain after Fernando Gaviria crashed and Nacer Bouhanni’s chain jumped with 150m to go. It left the way open for Arnaud Démare to deliver his long sprint and the first French win in Sanremo since 1995.

The early break went with a familiar feel thanks to the presence of Matteo Bono, Jan Barta, Maarten Tjallingii and Adrian Kurek all of whom were in the breakaway last year too. The same move but hoping for a different outcome? As ever just going clear brings TV airtime which is valuable and some of the survivors were only caught on the Cipressa. Trek-Segafredo placed Marco Coledan in the move meaning they got an easy ride for the first 200km. The breakaway’s lead was kept in check with eight minutes at the foot of the Passo Turchino.

Milan Sanremo autostrada

“Riders must take the Arenzano exit”

Up ahead a rockfall covered the road in Arezano. This often happens, it’s the reason why the Pompeiana climb was announced but dropped before the race could climb it in 2014 and in 2008 a landslide blocked the coastal road so they climbed up to Le Mànie to bypass the roadworks. This time the race was cleverly diverted onto the Autostrada, the riders didn’t have to pay at the toll booth but the price was an extra five kilometres.

As they crossed the three capes there was a series of crashes at the back of the bunch which highlighted the tension as riders fought for space across the whole width of the road. Then with 10km before the Cipressa a wave across the front of the peloton sent several well-placed riders down including Arnaud Démare, Geraint Thomas and Michael Matthews.

Normally this would be game over for anyone. Nevermind any injuries, it’s being dropped at this crucial point in the race as the bunch speeds away. The Cipressa, normally the graveyard for the sprinters, wasn’t enough to get rid of Démare. He started chasing again with FDJ team mates including William Bonnet who led him to the foot of the Cipressa and Mathieu Ladagnous who paced him up the climb; then Ignatas Konovalovas and Kévin Reza helped him on the descent and he rejoined the peloton on the road to the Poggio. Bonnet deserves a special mention, he broke his neck in the Tour de France last year resumed racing this spring and was now back in the thick of the action.

Nobody’s published the climbing time of the Cipressa yet but it didn’t look like it was climbed too fast and this allowed Démare and others to get back. Certainly there were no attacks on the steep part and it was only on the balcony section across the top of the climb that Movistar’s Giovanni Visconti and Team Sky’s Ian Stannard got away. Team Sky seemed to be repeating their tactics of before by constantly sending a rider up the road.

Visconti and Stannard were joined by three more riders but the quintet never got 20 seconds, this was at best a tactical ploy to force others to chase and give the likes of Team Sky and BMC Racing a chance to cruise while other teams had to pick up the pace. The coastal road allowed Katusha to gather at the front of the bunch and pull the race back together. But who else was there? We’re still in the dark ages of technology with no way to identify the riders beyond their dorsal numbers only the television helicopter was flying so high that even this was difficult. Fernando Gaviria was spotted and if Katusha were working then Kristoff must be there too. Before the Poggio Arnaud Démare was spotted too.

Onto the Poggio and the identity crisis continued when a Southeast rider attacked and the TV graphic flashed up saying it was Pippo Pozzato only for it to be a faux-zato and Andrea Fedi instead. Tony Gallopin tried an attack but was reeled in and then Michał Kwiatkowski attacked and got a gap.

You don’t need much of a lead over the top of the Poggio to win and the Pole was a serious contender, after all this is how he became world champion in 2014. Vincenzo Nibali was among those leading the chase but try as might to deploy his descending skills there was a queue of riders on his wheel.

The Poggio descent ended and we were no clearer to knowing what was going to happen. A bunch sprint? Perhaps not as Gallopin went again. Then Fabian Cancellara attacked and was marked by Matteo Trentin and just as they were caught Edvald Boasson Hagen took a flyer with Greg Van Avermaet on his wheel. The pair knew they could not afford to wait for the sprint given the opposition lurking behind them. Indeed Boasson Hagen looked around and saw Fernando Gaviria and Peter Sagan had got across and cut his effort knowing the game was up. He looked around again and drifted across the road, making Van Avermaet track him who in turn cut across Gaviria’s wheel, sending the Colombian crashing onto the Via Roma in sight of the finish line as Peter Sagan somehow shapeshifted diagonally to avoid falling. It was terrible for Gaviria who looked so powerful seconds below but we’ll never know what he could have done in the sprint.

Milan Sanremo Via Roma Sprint

250m to go and still the winner was unknown. If Michael Matthews had crashed earlier, Alexander Kristoff was supposed to be the big sprint threat. He was still racing but out of position and later lamented the lead out saying perhaps he should have just ridden for himself rather than relying on team mates. Jurgen Roelandts led out and a trio of sprinters appeared in Nacer Bouhanni, Ben Swift and Démare. Bouhanni was on level terms with Démare until suddenly his chain jumped with 150m to go leaving Swift and Démare. The Frenchman was leading and deployed his trademark long sprint, his démarrage.

Milan Sanremo 2016 podium

The Verdict
Pure Sanremo. The sun was shining and the result was uncertain until the end thanks to late moves from Kwiatkowksi, Cancellara and Boasson Hagen. A pity we never got to see Gaviria and Bouhanni in the sprint but Démare had his troubles too and FDJ delivered another impressive team effort to get Démare back in contention on Cipressa.

Démare’s win came after he abandoned Paris-Nice on precaution, having won a stage his knee began to ache and there was no point staying on for the mountain stages given the form was already there. Does it count as another Paris-Nice rider winning Sanremo? No, in fact this whole Paris-Nice vs Tirreno-Adriatico prep story has arguably become a bit a trope, the confusion of correlation and causation. On firmer grounds was the enormity of Démare’s win for French cycling, the first Monument win for a Frenchman since Jalabert’s 1997 Lombardia. FDJ team boss Marc Madiot was believed to be watching the race at home and we can only imagine the reaction, he’s probably wrecked his Ocaña sofa by jumping up and down on it with his cowboy boot heels. But for all Madiot’s theatre and hysterics there are the unseen heuristics. FDJ have been working patiently behind the scenes and investing in sports science, for example ending Francis Mourey’s cyclo-cross contract – given Madiot adores CX this must have hurt – so they could spend the savings on a training camp in Gran Canaria and so on. See how FDJ were third in the Tirreno-Adriatico team time trial the other day, beating the likes of Tinkoff and Sky.

Démare has been caught in recent years between sprinting and the classics, first making a name for himself as a sprinter but then trying for the spring classics. It meant a reduction in results, swapping quantity for quality. It paid off. He’s only beginning his spring classics campaign with races like Gent-Wevelgem (2nd in 2014) and Paris-Roubaix bound to suit too.

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OJT March 19, 2016 at 7:47 pm

Good race, great summary. I only saw the final 50k live and your post mortem of the finale is forensic.

Bob March 20, 2016 at 12:39 pm

**NEWS JUST IN**

Demure has been accused by astana and tinkoff riders of taking a tow from the team car up the cippressa. Race organisers say there is no footage available.

ocaz March 20, 2016 at 7:11 pm
dee March 20, 2016 at 9:29 pm

Did Demare delete the file or, like a twitter account can be, was it set to private?

PADDY DUNNE March 19, 2016 at 7:57 pm

The tension was palpable through the telly box. Thought Eurosport in UK with Matty Stephens and Brian Smith done a really good job, in keeping on top of IDing riders in the circumstances, still find it annoying as i get older find it difficult recognising riders, was sure Steve Cummins was pulling for DiDa late on! Great work this week sir with everything on here

Ecky Thump March 19, 2016 at 9:10 pm

Yes I enjoyed Eurosport today. And fair play to Brian Smith who called Bouhanni’s mechanical problems straight away.

D. March 20, 2016 at 1:51 am

Mechanicals are the least of Bouhanni’s problems. I’d venture to say almost everyone in the peloton, including some teammates, can’t stand him. And probably 99.99% of all cycling fans.

Seeing him screw up his own sprint is better than seeing my favorite rider win.

Sporza FTW! ES isn’t half as good as Sporza on its worst day.

Anonymous March 20, 2016 at 7:33 am

Sporza’s all well and good if your Flemish is strong – sadly mine’s not. Agreed Stephens and Smith make a very good commentating pair, though essentially I am happy if Kirby’s not calling it. Rob Hatch is good as well though.

Will March 20, 2016 at 8:55 pm

D what’s the agro with bouhanni? I have heard it a lot but not sure where it stemmed from.

BC March 19, 2016 at 8:04 pm

Thanks for the synopsis INRNG. The race matched all expectations and provided another exciting finish. Good to see the French take along awaited classic win.

I have to agree about the impossibility of identifying riders at times, other than by supposition – time gaps also appeared wildly inaccurate and were often best ignored. When oh when will TV presentations start to take advantage of available technology to bring us into the modern world and enhance the viewing experience ?

DMC March 19, 2016 at 8:14 pm

Timegaps are just an estimate and are based on constantly changing information. The best anyone can hope for is a more accurate estimate, which may or may not actually be more accurate.

Anonymous March 19, 2016 at 8:19 pm

Somehow I love the clean sound of “the confusion of correlation and causation”. Felt so bad for Gaviria. But tomorrow he hopefully will be proud of what he did: He was still there at the very end, when others, like Cavendish, were long gone. A beautiful result for french cycling, makes me so immensly happy for them (although personally I wish Bouhanni had got it instead of Demare).

Anonymous March 19, 2016 at 8:23 pm

What is characteristically fine is Gaviria’s reaction:
“Thanks to all. The fall was only my fault alone. Great experience although I cannot deny that my heart reflects on those 500m.”
Not a decoy rather a main boy.

The Inner Ring March 19, 2016 at 8:55 pm

Huge for Gaviria, I hope he is managed carefully as he can do so much already and he’s still 21 and has already surpassed the hype attached to him. A gold in the track world championships, a stage win in Tirreno-Adriatico and now within sight of the sprint finish at Milan-Sanremo, all in the same month. Imagine what he can do with some experience and focus.

Anonymous March 19, 2016 at 9:15 pm

He’s astonishingly good. Double track world champion. Seems capable of comfortably beating everyone but Kittel in a flat sprint (albeit with some major opponents possibly not in the same conditioning period) , yet he’s at least reasonably accomplished on some climbs too. Switched from the track to his first Sanremo (an extra long version) with none of the drop-off shown by the likes of Cavendish, and without obviously comprehensive team support (lots of Etixx riders making separate efforts).

He’s not got Kittel’s obvious physical dominance or Ewan’s incredible aero posture. A simply incredible pure talent.

Ecky Thump March 19, 2016 at 9:26 pm

I have to say that I thought Etixx as a team rode superbly today, and it was a shame that their efforts were not ultimately rewarded.
Is Gaviria down for any more of the Spring one dayers?
He might be that cutting edge that Etixx have lacked somewhat in the last couple of years?

DMC March 19, 2016 at 9:33 pm

Agreed – Gaviria reminds me of Cavendish when he jumped on the scene nearly 10-years ago. They were both really young, explosive riders who came off the boards with extreme speed and acceleration. They’re not identical, but sprinting definitely seems to be a young man’s game and Gaviria is crazy fast.

I can’t remember a more seemingly open favourites list than we have now, any rider can win the upcoming races.

Good luck Inrng in your predictions!

Anonymous March 19, 2016 at 11:57 pm

Yep, not putting down Etixx’s performance as team, more that they didn’t ride solely for Gaviria. He’s got a young Cavendish-like sprint, but he’s arrived at the top level immediately with stamina and the ability to climb, and his powers don’t seem to be primarily based on a previously unique aero position – I’m assuming it’s a combination of reasonable aerodynamics, good endurance, and otherworldly leg speed and power.

J Evans March 20, 2016 at 11:12 am

Wonder how he goes on cobbles… worth at least putting him in to one or two of the shorter races to find out and to give him some idea of what it’s like.

paekakariki pusher March 19, 2016 at 8:34 pm

That was a very good edition of the race. happy for FDJ to get a win – if for no other reason than I could take my La Pierrre out for a longer than normal hack this morning and channel some of the glory. 300Kms@40kph+ – ‘cycling – bloody hell’ as someone might once have said. Gaviria, the real deal, no?

DMC March 19, 2016 at 9:07 pm

Gaviria is definitely the real deal – can’t believe he made it that far with the leaders.

Also – did people see how Sagan and Cancellara avoided that crash? Unreal bike handling.

STS March 20, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Yeah, Sagan and Cancellara did show some great reaction when Gaviria crashed in front of them. They clearly learned their trade and honed it to perfection so that skills once learned have long become reflex actions.

Cepphus Grylle March 20, 2016 at 12:45 pm

Swift was pretty sharp too, avoiding the crash by veering right

J Evans March 20, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Swift didn’t seem significantly hindered, though: looking at he replay, he was straight on Demare’s wheel.

Nick March 21, 2016 at 12:09 am

He had to pull a pretty nifty skid to get there though!

Richard March 19, 2016 at 8:44 pm

Don’t think it was Stybar we saw on the descent of the Poggio – he finished 12+ minutes down. According to his Twitter feed he crashed into a dog on the Cipressa descent.

The Inner Ring March 19, 2016 at 8:46 pm

You’re right. Trentin or Brambilla perhaps?

Chris J March 19, 2016 at 8:49 pm

“It was terrible for Gaviria who looked so powerful seconds below but we’ll never know what he could have done in the sprint.”

Terrible for Sagan, too. He was perfectly placed until Gaviria tumbled into him and would surely have stood a good chance against Swift and Demare in the sprint.

Bouhanni was obviously also extremely unlucky. I find that he can be a difficult character to like, but it was hard not to feel sorry for him as he crossed the line pounding his bars in frustration.

The Inner Ring March 19, 2016 at 8:56 pm

From the aerial shot it looked like he was matching Démare until the chain jumped. Could he have kept up the power? He’s got the aero style so perhaps. You feel for him and his team mechanics tonight.

Chris J March 19, 2016 at 9:01 pm

I think his reaction showed that at least he thought he could have won. I’d certainly back Bouhanni over Demare in a straight-up sprint, all things being equal.

The big question is who would have won out of those two against both Sagan and Gaviria, had the latter stayed upright. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that Gaviria would have pulled off a remarkable victory. It’s truly a shame that we didn’t get to find out.

Irungo txuletak March 20, 2016 at 9:32 am

I also suspect Gaviria woud have billiantly won that sprint. In any case, happy to see FDJ long term strategy paying off – even if despite of his fall, Demare had incredibly favourable circumstances. As he self said: “it was like it was written I had to win this one”.

Bern March 20, 2016 at 10:59 pm

I have not seen an overhead video yet, but from the stop-motion (play/pause, play/pause, repeat until you can’t stand it any more) from the other videos I’ve seen I agree that Bouhanni was matching Demare. They were wheel to wheel and pedal stroke to pedal stroke till Bouhanni’s mechanical…

And extraordinary work by Sagan & Cancellara to stay upright…if you pause the video at the moment Sagan makes his avoidance maneuver you simply cannot see what’s going on – he is moving sideways so fast the video cannot account for it. ‘Shape-shifting’ indeed…

TDog March 19, 2016 at 9:10 pm

It appeared from the overhead slo-mo replay of the sprint that Demare was accelerating rapidly past Bouhanni before his mechanical hiccup. Chain jump or not, Demare was going to best him. Disappointed it wasn’t a “clean” finish for all involved – would have been interesting to see how all the protagonists mixed it up. Good to see Edvald B-H back fighting late in races.

Ecky Thump March 19, 2016 at 9:16 pm

What will your graph look like after today’s race Inner Ring, there looked to be a very large peloton on to the Cipressa?
Any thoughts on why numbers may not have been reduced?

DMC March 19, 2016 at 9:19 pm

My impression was it looked like the group was riding steady tempo up the Cipressa… not enough to really put the sprinters into the red.

Progress March 20, 2016 at 2:33 am

Good weather and an insufficiently hard parcours.
This race needed the Cipressa and then the Poggio back in the day for the same reason Paris-Roubaix needed the cobbles.
It then needed Le Manie. Now that Le Manie is out, the race is too easy to avoid a group sprint the overwhelming majority of the time.

Ecky Thump March 20, 2016 at 1:02 pm

26 riders finished in the first group in 2015, and this year it was 31.
2015 also saw 47 riders within 23″ of the winning time, compared to 59 riders within 36″ of the winner this year (the last of who was Matthews, up after his crash – a good effort).

Ferdi March 20, 2016 at 1:28 pm

+1. It needs Le Manie, that’s a no-brainer. And quite a bit more of whatever (little climbs, mileage, or something). Bad weather is not always there to give the race that extra selectiveness.

Ferdi March 19, 2016 at 9:32 pm

Very poor edition. Left me with a tasteless taste in my mouth.

Larry T March 20, 2016 at 8:44 am

Agreed. Not a stellar edition of La Classicissima unless you’re French. Nibali claimed the pace up Cipressa was fast though it didn’t look that way on TV. I’m starting to wonder if the Italian director, assuming it’s the same fellow they’ve had for years, isn’t starting to lose it? We saw and heard RAI presenter Alessandra DiStefano ranting out loud about his poor image selection at Strade Bianche and MSR was as bad or worse. I don’t remember it being this bad in the past. I don’t care all that much about high-tech, but the host broadcaster’s not doing a very good job with the basics of showing the race action!!!
Meanwhile, was high-tech was the undoing of Bouhanni at the end? Or was this one of those FSA chainring issues we’ve seen in the past? Didn’t the Manx Missile have issues like this awhile back with Di2 combined with FSA rings?

jkeltgv March 20, 2016 at 9:10 am

Usually there’s the stationary camera facing the left hander on the crest of Poggio. You’re prepared to miss the first 10-15 seconds of the descent to pick out riders as the take the corner…..we just had a long helicopter shot from behind yesterday

STS March 20, 2016 at 12:38 pm

I saw Cofidis using that combination (Di2 with FSA cranks) in P-N, so their bikes were probably still on it for MSR. If you look closely Bouhanni starts to pedal after the issue and clearly is in a much smaller gear then. So maybe the chain not really “skipped” but fell onto the small chain ring?
Things like this happen but it should be easy for teams to replicate that situation by letting him do some twenty full gas sprints when he’s on fresh legs. If they unplug the left-hand Di2-shifter and the chain doesn’t skip it’s very likely he unintentionally touched the paddle of his left-hand brifter. It also happened to me though I only lost a traffic light sprint because of that 😉 .

RC Speed March 20, 2016 at 9:33 pm

The issues Etixx had with the FSA rings and DI@ was a Mechanic issue…by not setting up the trim correctly on the FD which is why they had the Chain drop to the outside for Both Cav and Boonen.
Funny everyone always thinks it is due to the parts when Humans are the ones who have to set it up right…even pro mechanics have bad days.

J Evans March 20, 2016 at 10:59 am

But that is the race: it’s the Monument for the sprinters – the good thing about the Monuments is that each one is so different. (And as LBL shows, adding hills doesn’t always make for a better race.)
Admittedly, they seemed to go up the Cipressa slowly and there were a lack of attacks on the Poggio too.
As for the TV, I’m not generally a proponent of technology either, but I think something to identify riders is long overdue.
I watched the two hour highlights and it was ideal – and I didn’t have Kirby wittering the same banal cliches endlessly.

weeclarky March 20, 2016 at 6:08 pm

i completely agree . I don’t know whats wrong with having everyones surname emblazoned on their arses, as that’s what we spend most of our time looking at. I watch quite a lot of cycling, and still find it really hard to see whats going on. if the commentary is foreign it can sometimes take an hour or so to understand!

Ferdi March 21, 2016 at 7:52 am

@ J Evans: it is not right to say it is the sprinters’ Monument. Simply not right. Look at the list of winners before Zabel. No Freuler, Van Poppel, Rosola, Dejonckheere, Hoste, Sercu… not even Freddy Maertens. Only Gavazzi, and that was before the Cipressa was introduced (ask yourself why). Only when blood doping made the 300km basically a cinch for any pro rider, did we begin to see repeated big bunch sprints. The course should adapt in order to stay just beyond what sprinters can cope with. I’m not saying, as I’ve written before, that it should become an Ardennes classic. But anything that makes riders more tired when reaching the end of the race, so that the bunch is thinner, speeds are lower, and movements have a bigger chance of success.

Ferdi March 21, 2016 at 7:54 am

I add: probably 300km are not enough nowadays, in order for the race to be what it was in Merckx’ days. If we have taboos over courses longer than 300km, we should reconsider them.

UHJ March 21, 2016 at 9:39 am

Basically no limits to WorldTour (UWT) Men Elite race distances; these are determined by the Professionel Cycling Council as per UCI article 2.3.002.
So we need to “massage” the PCC to enlongate the parcours.
Unfortunately I don’t think longer courses will make it any more interesting. It only makes for more hours of calm pedalling. The german expression I think goes like: “Sie nehmen sich die Beine hoch”.

Ferdi March 21, 2016 at 12:30 pm

A healthy combination of previous additional kilometers and coastal climbing is what is being called for. Otherwise, how else can the Cipressa and Poggio climbing be slowed down, so that drafting is less advantageous?

weeclarky March 19, 2016 at 9:52 pm

it was exciting but it was almost like a stage race day at the end … i can’t help thinking it needs one more small climb before the poggio – though this wouldn’t work if it were windy. maybe they need a ‘nice weather directive’ where they have an extra hill/loop to shake things up at the end?

palladium15 March 19, 2016 at 10:21 pm

A typical MSR with an exciting, unpredictable finish. Gaviria looks an outsanding talent and to still be at the sharp end at such a young age after 300K’s shows he has bags of natural ability. Such a shame for Swift who I think got balked as well by the crash and maybe that was the difference for him today. He should surely win this race in the years to come.

One thing I was wondering with the crashes – apart from the pressure and tension being put on between the Capo climbs and the Cipressa was the constant adjustment in light conditions going from bright sunlight to shade and whether that with a tiring peloton meant we had an unusually high number of riders ending on the floor.

santiagobenites March 19, 2016 at 10:32 pm

What a fantastic photo of the eventual race winner picking himself up off of the ground after a crash. Damare proves to be a most deserving winner for first getting back into the race, and then going on to surprise (and destroy) everyone in the sprint.

Thank you Inrng, for once again delivering another winning write up.

Hammarling March 19, 2016 at 11:21 pm

MSR is always too long for me. Nothing of real interest happened before the Poggio, yes a few guys got shelled but i’d trade MSR for most other races any day of the week for action. Poggio itself was pretty dull until Ferdi made a move and then Kawasaki (thank you Rowe) attacked. Decent was tense but with such a group still together it felt inevitable he wouldn’t stay away. The sprint was good but 7 hours and 300km for a 500m sprint, that’s not a great return in my books.

Give me the Flanders classics please! Or rather the Trofeo Binda WWT race tomorrow!

Ronin March 20, 2016 at 10:19 pm

Trofeo Binda so far has been the best race the year, way better than any men’s race! There was so much more activity than in MSR! And, my word, Lizzie Armitstead won yet again! But she wasn’t even supposed to! That’s how great she is! Lizzie doesn’t do second place, even when she doesn’t mean to win.

What makes men’s racing so boring in comparison to women’s racing is that men’s races are way too long and need to be greatly shortened so they’re not so boring and predictable. I mean, why ride 250k or 300k if the race is going to come down to a sprint? Just ride a 100k to warm up. Besides, a sheer coincidence of shortening the courses for the men will be that it’s much easier to run the women’s peloton on the same course! Two races in one day full of activity! Wow, the fans will love it and everybody will win!

Bag Pus March 19, 2016 at 11:27 pm

I can’t agree on it being a classic edition – and for me, Le Manie would have made it more interesting or even a very short climb between the Cipressa and Poggio if such a thing existed. Fair play to Démare, he nailed the sprint

ocaz March 19, 2016 at 11:36 pm

First timer and watched every km of the coverage. Could genuinely feel the tension and thorougly enjoyed the eurosport commentary.

How Sagan managed to stay up right, his bike handling is unreal and was unfortunate as he was well placed allbeit on the wheel that went down!

Loved his cheeky sip of his bidon when Nibali was attacking and looking to see if he was going to assist him with taking up chase of Kwiatkowski. Made me chuckle.

J Evans March 19, 2016 at 11:55 pm

Delighted for FDJ and Demare sprinted in the wind from a long way out, showing his strength – particularly having crashed .

From the overhead, Bouhanni didn’t look, pre-mechanical, like he had the speed of Demare and with Bou there’s always a lot of handlebar-pounding for the sake of onlookers. (It looked like he could have kept going afterwards and maybe taken a podium, but he seems the type who prefers to give up and make sure everyone knows about his misfortune.)

How is Gaviria so good on track and road, whilst Cavendish is so poor on both? (Albeit Gaviria has a lot to learn about concentration it seems – and Sagan’s curse continues.)

A fantastic final 2k – and kudos to Kwiat who was about the only rider brave enough to go from far out.

Edvald BH must be wondering why he wasted those last couple of years at Sky – the talent is still there. As for Sky, Swift keeps coming close, but lacks the outright speed.

Steve March 20, 2016 at 12:23 am

Cavendish can hardly be called poor on the track when he’s just won some rainbow stripes!

J Evans March 20, 2016 at 11:19 am

Sixth in the omnium, when riding without Wiggins.

Vitus March 20, 2016 at 12:22 pm

I agree. I wouldn’t call a madison title poor. Though he also lost some sprints to Gaviria there.
Gaviria is just 10 years younger than Cav and managed the switch from track to road in a much better way. And Cav is far from his best days on the road since a while now. Power of youth vs. aging star, very normal.

Tovarishch March 20, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Mr Evans thinks he’s British which automatically means he is poor.

J Evans March 20, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Would you pick Cavendish for the omnium in the Olympics?
Cavendish is only 30 – that’s why I think it’s surprising that he’s gone so far off the boil (cf Greipel, 33).
What I’m wondering is whether it’s a general decline (still no proof, for sure about this) and would he be doing considerably better if he was solely focused on either road or track.
Is the track dream not realistic and is it worth possibly sacrificing some TdF form for?
And I think the difference between his and Gaviria’s form is much greater than one would expect.
I don’t care about nationality, Tovarishch: seems like that might be more your concern.

Anonymous March 20, 2016 at 3:07 pm

Nope. With the required focus on the track, I imagine he could match Viviani, but Gaviria can only beat himself to the gold (or the rest of the field all conspire against him in the group rides). Dibben probably has a similar chance of matching Viviani and is less likely to compromise the Team Pursuit.

Equally, if he focused solely on the road, I guess he’d be up there with the best of the rest, so that’s not too bad a decline. However, if Kittel gets reasonable support, he’ll win all the flat sprints. And Gaviria will be out of sight on every other sprint – he’s flying on aviation fuel while those around him are chugging along on chip oil.

P Hague March 21, 2016 at 2:14 pm

I can’t believe that I’ve just read that Cavendish is ‘so poor on the track & road’. How long have you been following cycling J Evans?

Anonymous March 20, 2016 at 12:22 am

Chapeau Demare and FDJ!! Great stuff.

Augie March March 20, 2016 at 1:33 am

Very, very nervy race. Just looking at the numbers and 180 riders finished this edition whereas in 2015 there were 160, in 2014 just 114, and in 2013 there were 135. Perhaps because of the fine weather a lot of riders who would have been already on the bus in previous years were still there in the final jockeying for position and trying to move their team leaders up. Also the sunshine versus the rain and cold probably meant less collective fatigue. Even with a few km to go there were tie ups as riders tried to go 8 wide through typical narrow Italian streets, and these huge numbers on tight roads probably caused many of the crashes.

Also we really need rider IDs, not only the Pozzato thing but in the final the commentators thought the Lotto rider was Gallopin.

Larry T March 20, 2016 at 9:36 am

When the weather’s foul and your work is done, why detour off the Aurelia over the Cipressa and Poggio. Instead you ride straight into Sanremo and climb in the warm, dry bus. But on a day like yesterday it seemed more, “why not?” continue and get credit for actually finishing La Classicissima instead of a DNF?

Augie March March 20, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Possibly, and I don’t doubt you’ve seen many more M-S editions than I, but to these eyes it looked way more crowded at the business end of the race than in previous years. Of course crashing is a part of cycling, but I would have liked to have seen both Gaviria and Matthews upright and sprinting for the win. Ah well there’s always next year.

Tricky Dicky March 20, 2016 at 3:21 am

When you’re watching a finale at 3am (Australian time) you really want it to have been a good race. Unfortunately, this edition wasn’t. I just couldn’t fathom why so many teams allowed Katusha to set tempo for much of the final two climbs. Surely Astana, Sky etc should have tried to rip the peloton to pieces from the first of each Capo.

The crashes really damaged things too.

I think the race does need another climb to shell a lot of the support workers – it should result in less crashes and a more selective finish amongst only the strongest.

Mortinsky March 20, 2016 at 8:34 am

Regarding the confusion of riders and numbers. With all the hightec in the modern world i don’t see the problem. There must be a way to id riders and timegaps, chips, gps…but maybe they prefer the fog of war.

Nice win för Demare, feel sad för Roelants, so close, did be go to early?

Irungo txuletak March 20, 2016 at 9:43 am

Agreed on Roelandts. This guy has maybe not the talent of the greatest classics riders, but he has the merit of trying things: long range attack in Flanders (the year he finished 3rd), ditto in Wevelgem last year – despite of the crazy windy conditions, early sprint in this msr… Hope for him this will eventually pay off.

Mats March 20, 2016 at 8:49 am

Tjallingii was in the main breakaway for the third year in a row. It’s clearly a some kind of spring ritual for him.

The finale was a chaos. Sagan was unlucky but one day he must realize that in a large group he is against guys who are faster. He must find other ways to win. All in all I’m very happy for the FDJ team. They deserve a big win for all their hard work and dedication.

Marsman March 20, 2016 at 9:17 am

According to La Gazetta it was a team car effort that won Demare the race

RocksRootsRoad March 20, 2016 at 10:01 am

Demare accused by Tossato and Capecchi that he hold onto his team car. Serious stuff if it’s true.

Ferdi March 20, 2016 at 10:35 am

At any rate, if Démare could catch up in the Cipressa, someone deserves assassination: if not because he cheated, because the peloton was sparing itself shamefully.

Anonymous March 20, 2016 at 10:28 am

I’m sure I’m as surprised as everyone else when I see Italian media reporting things like this in an Italian race which hasn’t had an Italian winner for 10years.

Luis March 20, 2016 at 3:33 pm

They organize the event, that’s why they have the news. Rather, I am not surprised that the French President of the race jury tolerated this impressive performance by Demare on the Cipressa: https://twitter.com/hendriksmj/status/711548834967625730 (the twit is not from an Italian: your thirst for national purity will be satisfied). 20 seconds better than the peloton, wow! Demare, next time just try on the Poggio!

Anonymous March 20, 2016 at 11:38 am

Sorry, I don’t want to offend anyone, honestly, this also isn’t an answer to one special comment and not even to this very situation, just something general I need to get of my chest:I don’t understand this fixation on these very simplistic ideas of morality and ethics, the permanent need to judge people and divide actions into “good” and “bad”, as if life could/would be this simple. Leave that to the tabloids and the sensationalistic press, who need to sell clicks and copies with those simple concepts. There are so many interesting things to talk about, but what always gets attention: If someone can be accused of doing something “bad”. Then everybody has something to say about it. This is very boring and tiring.

I saw so many riders getting ferried to and from the peloton by cars, that I lost count. From all teams and all nationalities. It is a sport, not the nobel prize for political and ethical correct behaviour. Being a good or noble person is no requirement of a person doing sport as a profession. And rightfully so. In sport we have rules. And when someone breaks the rules and isn’t caught out, he got lucky, but he still knows, that he broke the rules and that the next time he does it again, he risks to get fined – nothing changed. We cross the street by red light so long till we get fined – or cause an accident. Does that make us bad people, does that say anything about us as a person?

And even if Démare held on to a car, he didn’t steal anything from anyone, because it is not that binary. How do you know that the second or third one didn’t do the same? Or even worse things?

We don’t help the sport, if we make it a “whom I like best” and “who is the most noble soul” reality show and jump with verve and very vocal on every “HOW could he, I’m shocked (tell me more)”-bandwagon, while we are totally uninterested and silent about really important things like races vanishing, about riders having to pay for their place in a team and so on. In short:When we make it more about us, then about the sport. Come on, we live in the real world, not in some sterile computer generated vaccum, where action x gives you result y and where people are either good or bad. Yes, people break rules – but that is what it is: Breaking a rule. It doesn’t decide about the character of a person for all time. It only tells us, how a person reacted to a very complex situation-the next time, in the very same situation, that person maybe decides to do the very opposite. And then? Does that mean that person was bad then, but now is good?

People are just people and if we want to judge and talk about bad things, we should talk about really important things and not about our own subjective view of things, which says something about us, but most of the time absolutely nothing about the subject of our judgement.

End of rant. Sorry for that, don’t mean to upset anyone and sorry for the length of it.

Ferdi March 20, 2016 at 1:31 pm

The thing is that this kind of cheating could be controlled. How about a camera in every team car (or 2, for each side). How about getting Démare to share his cyclo-computer, Strava or whatever, to see how fast he went up the Cipressa, how many watts he put?

J Evans March 20, 2016 at 1:42 pm

Very good points. The strava idea isn’t absolute proof, I suppose (although it would be hard to argue), but the cameras should work.
It seems a huge shame whether this accusation is true or false.

Chris March 21, 2016 at 12:19 am

His ride is on Strava. KOM up Cipressa. No power or HRM info. Right.

Anonymous March 20, 2016 at 1:51 pm

Have to add something to my rant: To make it clear:I -now, in the aftermath – don’t care in the slightest bit, if he did or didn’t hang onto a car. The riders who complain the loudest probably did it 2 weeks ago or even in that very race. He wasn’t caught, basta. What the officials can learn from it, is that maybe they need a better way to make this rule more enforceable, if they care about it. But that is all. I don’t feel the need to talk bad about others.

Joel March 20, 2016 at 2:15 pm

So, if it transpires that he got a tow for 2 miles thereby gaining 40 seconds on his peers, you wouldn’t care?

ranting anonymous March 20, 2016 at 5:22 pm

No, I wouldn’t. If I would have been there, had seen every single riders action and would we have a sterile environment, where riders don’t get help from drafting and from this or that – maybe then I would care. But I was not. Your question implies, you think someone got hurt by Démare’s action (if it isn’t this way, sorry). But with every attempt to assign blame, you always only PRETEND to know what the situation was. Your focus is always only one person, when in truth you should have to look at the whole scenario and it’s relations. And to say: If Démare wouldn’t have done this, Swift or Roelandts would have won is simply not working. Were you there the whole race and saw what Swift or Sagan or anyone did? Would we have heard about Démare’s haul, if he wouldn’t have won? No. I think there were many hanging on to a car yesterday or riding behind a car, just nobody is busting them. So you don’t know who did what.

And additionally: Who knows, if Démare hadn’t made it to the peloton, maybe another rider would have been in his place and had crashed and none of the first five could have made it to the finish. We simply don’t know what would have happened, so it isn’t working to say: If Démare wouldn’t have done this, rider b would have won the race, things aren’t that linear (people with knowledge about relativity and such strange things can explain that better). So no, I don’t care. I would care during the race, when it is seen by a comisaire and it wouldn’t be fined. But afterwards? It is like all those doping cases, where another maybe doped rider gets assigned a win 4 years later, just because he didn’t get caught. Personally I don’t think rules have anything to do with ethics. If you mistake rules for a catalogue for ethical behaviour, it soon gets very muddy. What is fair about BMC and Team Sky with their monster budgets competing against a Team like FDJ? Nothing fair about that. But it is allowed under the rules, even if it is not ethical, so we have to accept it.

People agree to have rules, to create a do or don’t, not to judge a character by some rules that can change tomorrow and be then the other way around. If tomorrow the UCI decides, that after a flat or a crash you are allowed to get towed from a neutral car to the position you were in before that flat – would that mean suddenly getting towed isn’t unethical anymore in your eyes, just because it is now not against the rules? Hm. So I try to keep morality and rules separate. In this case no comissaire saw Démare, so he won the race for me. Would I like it, if he hadn’t held onto a car (if he did): Sure, I would like everybody to adhere to the rules. But if someone breaks a rule, I see it as that. And not more.

TDog March 20, 2016 at 2:19 pm

His action do matter. They matter to the outcome of the race. Whether they matter in a deeper way is up to one’s belief system. The fact that he “got away with it” does not negate the fact that his action fundamentally changed the outcome of the race. To expect that competitors start from a basis of respecting the rules is not unreasonable. Otherwise, have no rules and let chaos reign. Might make for better TV.

Augie March March 20, 2016 at 12:56 pm

Via Cyclocosm’s Paris-Roubaix video from 2014, it seems Arnaud Démare has form when it comes to hanging onto cars: https://youtu.be/P9kg3x-4-cg?t=25s

John Irvine March 21, 2016 at 12:23 pm

Aw man, you had to do that, and make me miss HTRWW all over again. The only thing that makes up for Cosmo not doing those anymore is the (ever increasing) quality of writing and analysis right here at Inrng.

Augie Marc March 22, 2016 at 6:43 am
Luis March 20, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Demare Strava was giving Demare 20 seconds faster than the peloton on the Cipressa. You can easily find the screenshot circulating on Twitter. Why the screenshot? Because the original is not anymore there… Demare cancelled his Strava data from Saturday. Some riders also witnessed he came up on the Cipressa pulled by a car. Ah, the President of the jury Saturday was French. The usual organized crime of France…

STS March 20, 2016 at 3:43 pm

Thanks, for the link, Luis.
20 seconds on the Cipressa on the not so fast riding Peloton is not impossible, even for Demare full of anger and adrenaline with only one aim on his mind during those minutes: getting back to the peloton while those in front had no reason to go absolutely full gas.
But let’s assume it’s true he got towed. If any proof shows up he did he will probably get fined or at least DQed. But how many riders got towed in some way (holding onto a car, to a sticky bottle, riding in the draft of a vehicle) during MSR yesterday in total? What do you think? A safe bet is more than fifty.
If those rules get finally applied I’m fine with this but then make sure they get nearly everyone. Just busting the winner or some that were accidentally filmed while doing it doesn’t do the sport any justice. It’s o.K. in life when not everyone who is speeding with his car or motorcycle gets trapped but here we’re talking about a sporting competition. Rules are intended and necessary to create fair play. If you cannot sufficiently enforce the rules and only a few receive punishment (and all the public anger consecutively) and will be treated as “those bad, bad cheats” for the rest of their careers while all the others who did the same but remained undetected are considered to be playing by the rules then you foil your own efforts to create a level playing field.
From a rider’s point of view: If the assumed tow brought Demare only back to where he was before the crash which he did not cause do you think the majority of his competitors do consider this to be a foul? From my own experience as a racer I would say: No, they don’t.

Larry T. March 20, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Aren’t you missing the part where the guy didn’t have to PEDAL up the Cipressa to get where he “was before the crash”? That seems to be what Tosatto is claiming. They put the Cipressa in to make it harder but if a car tows you up, the race might as well stay down on the Aurelia so everyone can skip the Cipressa (and the Poggio) and arrive fresh for the final sprint as with the original route.

Anonymous March 20, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Strava has cadence. There’s a 9 second break.

J Evans March 21, 2016 at 10:31 am

Well, that’s only 4 seconds longer than the usual sticky bottle.

Vitus March 20, 2016 at 4:35 pm

And because the president was from France, it’s a so called “fact” to you that he definitely saw Demare hanging on a car, but cause you think there’s “organized crime of France” he tries to hide it. And all the other commisaires, who are not French are bribed or blackmailed by him, or he covered their eyes while it was happening?
Only a rhetorical question. Sorry, but I call that just nationalistic bull. But maybe you could enlighten us which are the good nations that aren’t involved in cheating and or doping, so that we only rot for them and pitchfork mob the others.

Vitus March 20, 2016 at 4:37 pm

PS: Having said that, of course I believe Demare cheated. Innocent riders wont delete their Cipressa KOM on Strava. Jury just didn’t have pics as prof, simple as that.

Larry T. March 20, 2016 at 3:45 pm

This is sad. Perhaps HERE is an angle where all this technology could really be useful? Some recording device on each bike could easily record if the guy was going 80 kph UPHILL. GPS says it was uphill, data recorder says it was 80 kph…you’re out. One other interesting bit is other riders accused someone of cheating instead of obeying the OMERTA? That’s rather new.

J Evans March 21, 2016 at 10:26 am

It is very interesting that they’ve come out like this. You have to wonder why all of a sudden, after all the things they must have seen. Is there some personal grudge?
Particularly as – according to Demare’s strava speed results – Capechi’s estimate was out by nearly 30kph.

Cd March 20, 2016 at 4:05 pm

I’d feel worse about Swift being given the win. That’s depressing.

Simon March 20, 2016 at 4:45 pm

1 highlight was hearing inrng name checked near the beginning of the Eurosport coverage!!

Richard S March 20, 2016 at 4:52 pm

*Sprinter in car tow up hill shocker*

It happens all the time, I’m willing to guess in Milan-San Remo every year. Some suspiciously large sprinters have won it in the past. I’m not saying it’s right and if it’s true it’s a shame for Swift and Roelandts who are two largely unheralded hard working riders who might have had their one shot at a race like this taken away. But that’s cycling. Funny old game.

Watts March 20, 2016 at 4:58 pm

The moment the race was won, was apparently on the Cipressa. Hanging on to a car. Wow, bummer.

Anonymous March 20, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Well, at least this will be a temporary but real distraction from the manufactured distraction of “motorized doping”.

dee March 20, 2016 at 5:52 pm

Where does the UCI stand on a riders accusing a fellow rider of ‘cheating’ that turns out to be baseless?

Anonymous March 20, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Was thinking the same, when I’ve read that this Lloyd-person, who helped to spread the rumour in the first place, wrote on Twitter at least 5 times: FDJ had to show Demare’s power files to the public “to dispell the rumours”. Why? Just because someone said something to someone? Nonsense. But that is the social media-pressure: Someone says something and immediately it becomes a truth to many. Not long and riders only ride with their personal lawyer besides them.

Vitus March 20, 2016 at 7:54 pm

Unlike some anonymous commenter, Daniel Lloyd has a name and reputation in cycling world and is not some “Lloyd-person”. But go on

BC March 20, 2016 at 7:37 pm

If you have ridden up the Cipressa you would realize that a team car towing a rider at 80 km/hr as alleged, without any photographic evidence, just behind the peloton is a fairly unrealistic assumption. First the road is fairly narrow and twisty in places, and with a long line of following team and official cars there would be little if any room available for the alleged offence to take place. What happened before the Cipressa might be another case, but the allegations are or the climb.

It is a shame that because of the long term attitude of officials turning a blind eye to ‘sticky spanners and bottles’ together with an unwritten law that allows limited drafting following a mishap, a rider is now accused of cheating in one of the monuments. I hope that these accusations turn out to be unfounded. Whatever the outcome, riders and officials can’t play the rules both ways.

I feel sorry for Demare for being caught up in this problometic.

Larry T. March 20, 2016 at 8:11 pm

BC, I have ridden a bicycle (and driven) up the Cipressa http://cycleitalia.blogspot.it/2010/03/la-classicissima-milano-san-remo-part-1.html
a few times and 40+ mph with a guy hanging on doesn’t strike me as so impossible that one can dismiss the allegations of cheating as easily as you do, especially as you weren’t there to see how Demare got back in contention vs Mathews, involved in the same crash.
But I do think, absent more eyewitness accounts or other evidence, the results should not be changed. I’d hate for pro cycling to end up like the NFL where the game is constantly stopped for officials to view video tape and second-guess the calls of officials.

BC March 20, 2016 at 9:10 pm

But Larry, you were not riding up the climb with a full blown race taking place, preceding their lengthy accompanying convoy of team cars and race officials. I don’t dismiss the idea of cheating – this is after all Pro bike racing, I am simply saying from many years of personal experience, given race conditions on that particular road, the possibility of being towed at 80 km/hr without being seen by officials or the many cameras present seems highly unlikely. Unless you want to call Mafia, but that does not allow for the many spectators cameras.

The alternative would be a SKY win on home turf !

J Evans March 20, 2016 at 9:44 pm

According to Strava, his max speed was 52.2kph on the Cipressa: not the fastest.
If he hadn’t deleted it for a while and if it had power data people might give it a rest – or maybe not, if it doesn’t look good.
3 seconds faster than Visconti up the Cipressa, whilst drafting, doesn’t look that unbelievable.
FDJ should release the power data.
If that proves he’s innocent, some words should be had with Capecchi and Tosatto.

Larry T. March 21, 2016 at 7:58 am

BC-I don’t want to get into a “mine’s bigger than yours” thing here, but it seems you are claiming some special knowledge that I’m simply not buying into. I’ve driven in race caravans in-between team cars a time or two and simply don’t dismiss the idea of the guy being towed back into contention as easily as you do. “Highly unlikely” covers a lot of stuff – plenty of things many thought they’d NEVER see in pro cycling…but we know better now. And as much as I dislike SKY, if their man was the first guy over the finish line who followed ALL the rules, he deserves to win.

BC March 21, 2016 at 10:53 am

Larry. You have the biggest, so we can leave that debate behind !

I am certainly NOT claiming special knowledge, just an opinion based on knowledge of the area, race and personal experience. Unlike you, I don’t live in Italy, but just over the border in sunny France. From Nice the climb is a regular training ride. I have already stated that the possibility of a tow can never be discounted, but in my OPINION such a tactic on the Cipressa would be difficult, given the race circumstances and road conditions I have described. A ‘sticky bottle’ early on would certainly be a possibility before arriving at the rear of the race convoy, but tell me of any rider who does not take full advantage of the lax interpretation of this particular rule. Even the two Italians appear to infer a ‘sticky bottle’ in their so far unsubstantiated claims. If the claim was that a tow was given along the coastal approach, we would probably be in agreement – I would suspect that riding behind a team car/s was involved. Another rule overlooked constantly if considered not fragrant by UCI officials.

As you rightly say, neither of us really knows the answer so opinion is open. It would be a dull and uninteresting world if we all saw it through the same eyes.

The winner is the winner until evidence shows differently.

Larry T. March 21, 2016 at 12:04 pm

BC – fair enough. We disagree on the level of difficulty in towing a guy up a large chunk of the Cipressa climb. I’m OK with that. Based on the comments made by Demare it seems there was certainly a “sticky bottle” used to get him back in contention. The argument is whether this made the difference between winning and losing. At the most basic level it did, as he would not likely have been in a position to even sprint for the win without it. What Tosatto and the others seem to be saying is he got far more, saving a lot of energy that should have been used to make the climb, which is why the climb is on the route in the first place. But absent any definitive proof or admission, the results should stand, as our friend UHJ makes clear.

STS March 21, 2016 at 12:14 pm

“But absent any definitive proof or admission, the results should stand, as our friend UHJ makes clear.”

Amen.

I already wondered when or if ever I’m going to read this conclusion from one of the “monsters” in this forum, hoping that the fruitless discussion will stop after that statement. Because that conclusion is what competition, rules and that stuff is all about.

Shouldn’t we all spend more time in the saddle and less in front of some sort of screen ;-).

Happy riding!

J Evans March 20, 2016 at 8:57 pm

Inner Ring, any chance of you going through the data that has been revealed and telling us what it suggests, please?
Otherwise, it’s just a lot of bickering.
I’m normally quite happy to join in the bickering, of course, but I’ve no idea here – don’t know about data, driving cars at 80kph, Strava, deletions…

Crypto March 21, 2016 at 2:21 am

With your permission, I’d like to take the armchair Demarre demagoguing to the next level…

I find it hilarious that people say, “Release the power file!” As if a power file (which is really just a bunch of formatted text) couldn’t be modified to show someone was pedaling and putting out power when they weren’t in reality. There’s absolutely no way to know if a “power file” is authentic and unchanged. So, unless FDJ foolishly release a power file that shows Demarre not pedaling up the Cipressa, we will never know.

I am simply grateful that Bouhanni didn’t win.

Anonymous March 21, 2016 at 1:10 pm

“I am simply grateful that Bouhanni didn’t win.”

I remember when everyone used to say that about Cavendish..

Crypto March 21, 2016 at 5:02 pm

I agree that (even now) Cav can be a “hot mess” when sprinting (Haussler, Harrogate, …). I suppose it’s the nature of the beast of sprinting to some extent, but some seem to be “hotter messes” than others.

I will give Bouhanni credit for *improving* the safety of his sprints. His first couple years in world tour races, his sprint went in random directions with no rhyme or reason. In recent years he seems to at least be able to hold a line of his choosing – even if that line is rarely straight, and often calculated to pinch others off.

DJW March 21, 2016 at 8:17 am

In various comments made by Démare and his manager in the French media no specific denials have been made. The words are carefully chosen to imply innocence without addressing specifically the action of which they are accused. One could therefore logically imply that the charges are correct. Sadly the accusation is not well formulated: 80km/h when Tosatto would have no accurate means of judging the speed. The charge would have more weight if the point had been better made and, in particular, if the other riders who certainly saw the event would speak out. Why don’t they? Surely because taking advantage this type is commonplace and accepted.

The general requirement must be to define, in all the nuances which exist, what is acceptable and what is not based around the possibility of neutralising misfortune without taking additional advantage. Very difficult.

The Inner Ring March 21, 2016 at 8:30 am

I’ll look into this later on today but your comment is interesting.
– “One could therefore logically imply” is a curious statement, is it not another way of saying “I’ll leap to the conclusion”?
– Tosatto never said anything about the speed. That was Capecchi. This shows how witness stories and statements often get mixed up within hours of an event. Tosatto instead said Démare was attached to the car which is the more serious allegation than Capecchi’s claim.
– Why don’t other riders speak up? It’s equally possible there were few around too, no?

Will March 21, 2016 at 10:48 am

In this world of social media and ease of capture, let alone the other riders, but 100’s of spectators not one caught an image or video of him holding onto the car? I’m cynical at best.

UHJ March 21, 2016 at 10:53 am

Someone above asked what the jury does. Basically we judge what we see. We are expected to not judge by hearsay. I think that applies in this situation too. If the jury members or their trusted colleagues did not see it or can have it confirmed by pictures/television (as president/organiser you ar erequired to arrange to see the television shots after the race if deemed necessary) it cannot be sanctioned.
And this late in a race this high-profiled, it is strange that apparently no one has pictures.
To be honest, going to the press afterwards is just shooting blanks; what they should have done was file a protest. Did they? (And as others have suggested, they do it all the time so it could really backfire)
Taking this to the press does nothing change the outcome, most likely it will work the opposite.

bllx March 21, 2016 at 11:37 am

In the cyclingtips article, the DS of FDJ says that Démare got a bottle on the Cipressa climb, which is prohibited according to 2.3.027.

J Evans March 21, 2016 at 11:44 am

But we see bottles given on climbs in every race.

The Inner Ring March 21, 2016 at 11:56 am

Does he? Guésdon says the mechanic passed up a bottle but we don’t know where it was done. For example note the top of the Cipressa is not a climb, it’s a flattish balcony section (http://inrng.com/2016/03/roads-to-ride-the-cipressa/) and so the rule might not apply.

I’ll look at this closer at lunchtime today, the fascination is comments like this which take one statement and add something to it which may not be true.

J Evans March 21, 2016 at 11:43 am

So far, we have accusations from two riders, who should have gone to the race jury rather than the media, as UHJ says.
One of them made claims of speed far faster than that speed given on strava.
How easy is it to manipulate data before it is put on strava? So, would the power data – if it was put up – be any more conclusive?
The strava also suggests a break in Demare’s cadence of 9 seconds – apparently. So, a long sticky bottle, at worst.
Was the data any different when Martijn Hendricks first saw it to when it was put back on later?
No other rider, press photographer, spectator or person in any of the vehicles nearby have said anything – nobody saw anything? That’s hard to believe.
And why did Capechi and Tossato say anything when they know that this happens in virtually every race?

Nick March 21, 2016 at 12:07 pm

So far as I could tell, the 9 second gap in pedalling appeared to come before the climb started too. May well have read that wrong though.

80kph is obviously an over-estimate, but it is very hard to judge how quickly other vehicles are going.

The Inner Ring March 21, 2016 at 12:16 pm

The 9 second break is shown here:
https://twitter.com/hendriksmj/status/711579404158279680

It happens on the stretch of road that drops down into San Lorenzo Al Mare, as the road comes down towards the sea level and goes under the coastal railway line. It’s during this Strava segment in reverse:
https://www.strava.com/segments/2735475

We don’t what he was doing here but it’s not uphill and not the Cipressa.

UHJ March 21, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Doping on STRAVA: http://www.digitalepo.com/

Larry T. March 21, 2016 at 10:50 am

+1 I thought the part about the officials not seeing this and handing out some punishment right away somehow translating into no cheating taking place was rather interesting. The other interesting part were the quotes from Demare about not knowing if he was really sprinting for the win vs a decent placing. Could he have really taken the big tow from the car and thought it was no big deal because he was out of contention for the win…then was faced with an “uh-oh” moment when it turned out he won?

Anonymous March 21, 2016 at 1:15 pm

You’re getting a little carried away here.

MultiplexRant March 21, 2016 at 10:58 am

I found this write up more interesting and compelling than the highlights package (I didn’t watch it live). Testament to INRNG’s narrative skill, but also to the fact that this wasn’t an amazing race.

I’ll admit it, I’m not a terrific fan of MSR. Possibly because, since I started following pro-cycling in depth around 2010, 2011, half of the MSR editions I’ve seen have been won by decent-ish in-form sprinters who got a bit of luck (Ciolek, Goss, Demare). Nothing against those individuals, they took their chance and fair play to them, but I find this the least compelling of the monuments, and also less interesting than even Gent-Wevelgem, Strade Bianchi etc.

[cue derision for lack of knowledge, kids today, when-I-were-a-lad-we-all-knew-Andrie-Tchmil’s-inside-leg-measurement etc. and so on]

No sour grapes at all that I’d bet on Matthews, BTW (I had a small each-way on Swift which saved my bacon) 😉

Richard S March 21, 2016 at 11:10 am

No derision. Each to their own. Strade Bianche I’ll give you, but Gent-Wevelgem? I would say that’s probably the least interesting of the cobbled classics and is generally a nailed on sprint, or at least reduced bunch sprint, unless the weather throws a spanner in the works like last year. But lets face it, even a relatively quiet classic where you have to wait nigh on 7 hours for any worthwhile decisive action is better than most things in life. I’ve had worse Saturday afternoons.

Larry T. March 21, 2016 at 11:53 am

Multiplex – In Italy they say “giovani oggi” with a shoulder shrug, as in “these kids today”.
I remember 40+ years ago reading comments in the BICYCLING Magazine from old farts who went on about how little the newbies knew (or cared) about the history of cycling. Now I write the same s__t on blogs, so don’t worry, we all had to start someplace. I’d suggest reading (if you haven’t yet) this book https://www.velopress.com/books/the-spring-classics/ and finding some video from the versions of MSR that happened before you started following cycling. Back-in-the-day I had a similar opinion of La Classicissima but I’ve come around, as you no doubt know from the rants I post here?

Larry T. March 21, 2016 at 12:27 pm

One final (I promise!) bit here – can anyone dig up the exact quote from Sean Kelly..the one about the race finish when he crosses the line and asks the press guy who won? When told Rider X was the winner he asked if Rider X had his arms raised when he crossed the line…and if they were the same length? The press guy had a puzzled look and Kelly explained that one should have been a lot longer than the other as Rider X had held onto a car over most of the climbs! Some things never change.

Anonymous March 21, 2016 at 12:34 pm

And whilst the last two WorldTour races have descended into controversy, the UCI has remained silent – as effective as ever. But then Cookson is busy once again suggesting that the Vuelta should be reduced to two weeks – something no cycling fan could want.

Anonymous March 21, 2016 at 1:26 pm

Two things on Cookson: First, all you guys with your pitchforks and torches put him there, Second, he’s only just getting started; he’ll have this sport so tidied up for the bookmakers that none of you will recognize it.

Anonymous March 21, 2016 at 1:31 pm

Odd, I don’t remember voting. (And the previous bloke was fantastic, obviously.)
Ridiculous conspiracy theories aside, the only reason to shorten the Vuelta is to allow space for new races – one suspects money-making races from China and the Middle East, probably with poor parcours.
That is what Cookson is about and why he’s lining up alongside Velon.

Cormac March 21, 2016 at 2:00 pm

If you were a member of a UCI registered cycling club, you would have got a vote. I know my club did and we had an internal debate before making our choice.

Anonymous March 21, 2016 at 2:01 pm

You didn’t vote, but you did an awful lot of whinging. As to the previous bloke, I remember how he was going to be exposed after the costly CIRCus of an investigation after all the UCI computers were confiscated. What was the result again?

*

As to the ridiculous conspiracy theories, what is the largest gambling market in the world?

China at $22.2 billion in 2015.

Anonymous March 21, 2016 at 7:02 pm

2 + 2 = 87
There’s plenty to criticise Cookson about (including CIRC).
However, serious criticisms of the harm he will cause cycling are unlikely to be helped by nonsense. (I’m willing to take that back if you have an iota of evidence of Cookson’s involvement in gambling conspiracies. Except we all know that you have nothing.)

DMC March 21, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Interesting debate about Demare’s perceived assistance up the Cipressa. It’s frustrating that another race ends with a cloud over it.

Did any other riders confirm or deny the initial accounts of Tosatto and Capecchi? For example, Demare says he was riding with Michael Matthews (who also made it back to group) so did Matthews have anything to say on this?

DMC March 29, 2016 at 9:04 pm

After reading through “The Secret Pro” on CyclingTips, the author says that multiple riders witnessed Demare’s cheating. If so, then this is pretty indicative that Demare did in fact take a tow. Is this definitive? Did any of these other riders publicly state this? I must have missed it if they did.

The Inner Ring March 29, 2016 at 9:11 pm

There was a Movistar rider last week who said he didn’t see anything suspicious too, can’t find the tweet now.

Also the Secret Pro is referring to freewheeling at 50km/h on the Strava data but looking at the ride there’s no sign of that up the Cipressa… just on the downhill into San Lorenzo (before the Cipressa starts), as addressed in the bit about the 9 second time gap in the piece above, it’s as if our Secret Pro has bought into the conspiracy.

DMC March 29, 2016 at 9:23 pm

Thanks, that’s what I swore I remembered reading, that Arnaud didn’t freewheel on the hill itself and that nobody treated the KOM like a KOM, so Arnaud’s “winning” it doesn’t really mean anything.

I really wish other riders would speak up about this. What about the riders that were with Arnaud’s chase group? If they admitted they all held onto a car, or that in fact Arnaud was sucking their teammates’ wheels, then we could attempt put this issue to bed either way, and not have a weird asterisk on the 2016 MSR (even though this isn’t at all the most important issue from the 2016 year after what’s just happened – would be nice to take this one off bottom of the list).

Anonymous March 29, 2016 at 10:15 pm

The problem isn’t the race or any non existing cloud over it: No rider and no team made an official complaint to the race jury or anybody. Démare won the race. End of story. No, the real problem is reading something like the Secret Pro. I don’t read it anymore since the last piece which was only pure poisoned gossip, prejudices, judgement and ressentiments. There was nothing secret or pro in it – just a retelling of tweets and news and giving them a negative, ugly spin. I would think the best thing to avoid problems is not giving him/them any attention.

DMC March 30, 2016 at 2:02 am

Allegedly Simon Yates also stood up for Demare because he was towing Matthews and Demare up the Cipressa at 54kph. Yates sounds reliable on this one.

Asterix March 30, 2016 at 2:36 am

I don’t who the Secret Pro is, but the current column is pure tabloid garbage. It reads like click bait written by an editorial type with cash-flow problems. Nothing new offered to support the (obvious) conclusion that Demare cheated, while misrepresenting what we already know. Done with him. There is no asterisk.

J Evans March 30, 2016 at 11:31 am

The Secret Pro Who Agrees With Everything Greg Henderson Says uses his ‘anonymity’ to endlessly chunter on about respect, whilst disrepecting many other riders, and to credulously regurgitate baseless rumours, speculation and conspiracy theories.
The French and Italians are all cheating; the Aussies, Brits and Belgians are all fabulous.

J Evans March 30, 2016 at 9:23 am

He buys into every conspiracy.

Idar March 30, 2016 at 11:03 am

As with Astana, Aru/Henderson and other doping related stories over the last years, “The Secret Pro” merely transforms the anglophone media/fan perspective into a supposedly anglophone athlete perspective. No information that isn’t allready familiar to fans through traditional and social media, no added context, not even any (at least very few) novel insights into innocent stuff such as race tactics (i e. what REALLY happened during this or that race).

In conclusion we shouldn’t pay the column any attention in these matters.

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