FDJ directeur sportif Frédéric Guesdon has denied accusations that Milan-San Remo winner Arnaud Démare was towed back to the peloton by a team car on the Cipressa after he had been held up by a crash at the base of the climb.
In the aftermath of Démare's surprise sprint win on the Via Roma, both Matteo Tosatto (Tinkoff) and Eros Capecchi (Astana) told Gazzetta dello Sport that they had seen the Frenchman holding onto a team car as he came past them at double their speed on the way up the Cipressa.
Contacted by Cyclingnews on Sunday morning, Guesdon, who was driving the FDJ team car in question, rejected any wrongdoing. He acknowledged that Démare was handed a bidon from the team car as he chased back on, but denied that he had been towed.
"We didn't cheat," Guesdon told Cyclingnews. "I was with Arnaud on the way up the Cipressa but simply because he was in the convoy of cars after the crash. At one point he took a bidon from us, but I couldn't have towed him at 80kph when I was in the queue of directeur sportifs' cars on the climb. It was bumper to bumper.
"He just took a bidon, but like I said, there were cars all over the place, and riders all over the place, so it simply wouldn't have been possible to give him a tow at 80kph like they're claiming."
Guesdon suggested that FDJ might release Démare's power data from the finale of Milan-San Remo in a bid to demonstrate his good faith. He confirmed that Démare did not receive a bike change after being held up in the crash, which means that all of his data ought to be on file.
"If there's really a polemic about this, we'll ask Arnaud to release his power files so people can see his watts and speed on the Cipressa. If this continues, that's something that we could do," Guesdon said. "He had a computer on his bike so you could immediately see if there was a spike on the Cipressa."
Démare was held up in the same incident with 23 kilometres remaining that also saw Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) come down. He was initially helped by William Bonnet and Mathieu Ladagnous on the Cipressa as he chased back on, and then bridged back to the tail of the peloton on the descent. Démare had three FDJ teammates for company as he approached the base of the Poggio.
"Michael Matthews did almost the same thing," Guesdon said. "He was distanced by the crash, he chased on the Cipressa and he managed to get back on over the top, but then couldn't hold on after that. We didn't cheat."
Démare's sprint victory on the Via Roma saw him become the first French winner of Milan-San Remo since Laurent Jalabert in 1995 and the first French monument winner since 1997, when Jalabert won the Tour of Lombardy and Guesdon himself won Paris-Roubaix.
"It's a part of Italian races," Guesdon said of the polemic over the legitimacy of Démare's win. "Coming from two older riders, it's very petty. But if there's really a problem we can show Arnaud's power data."