Alberto Contador has hit back at criticism of his decision to change bikes before the final climb to Abetone on stage five of the Giro d'Italia, insisting it has nothing to do with possible hidden motors but is about using the best bike technology for stage finishes.
The UCI has continued to check bikes for motors during the early stages of the Giro d'Italia, just as they did at Paris-Nice and Milan-San Remo. Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Italian police have also been involved during the Giro d'Italia, checking radio frequencies used on the race for possible illegal systems that allow motors to be remotely activated from team cars.
Mario Cipollini stirred up the controversy about possible hidden motors during the post-stage chat show on Italian television after the stage to Abetone. He suggested that Contador's bike change only added to doubts about possible illegal motors.
"I think I speak for a lot of people. There's talk about motors in bikes at the moment, if they exist or not. So as a cyclist, I ask myself what difference one bike has over another. I don't want stir up any doubts but I don't think it's nice that every time there's an important climb he stops and changes his bike. Why stir up doubts in cycling? I don't think it's the tubulars that make a difference, or that he's using a heavier bike first and then changing to another, which seems identical. It just stirs up the doubts when we don't need them, considering all the investigators that are trying to find out if these motors exist or not. I don't think a champion of his calibre needs to stir up these doubts."
Cipollini was not afraid to say that if he was racing against Contador, he would go on the attack whenever the Tinkoff-Saxo rider stopped to change bikes.
"I don't understand why a rider like Cunego who is form, or others, don't attack Contador when he stops to change his bike," Cipollini said. "I'd attack and make him chase for all of the climb. In our day that's what would have happened. He'd perhaps think twice about doing if you attacked him every time."
Contador was asked about Cipollini's comments after pulling on the pink jersey but dismissed suggestions about hidden motors in bikes with a joke.
"My bike doesn't have three motors, it has five! The whole thing about motors is a joke, it comes from the world of science fiction," he said in the post-race press conference.
He said his decision to change bikes was to use the best possible equipment for specific moments in the race such as mountain finishes. Contador said he is in favour of in-race bike changes, as occur on other sports.
"The changes depend on how the stage unfolds, we can use different type of tubulars, bearings or even stiffer wheels. These are solutions that over 30-40km can give a slight advantage. It’s got nothing to do with motors," he said.
"I don't think changing equipment, as happens in motorbike or car racing, is bad thing for cycling. In fact, I think it's a good thing."
Watch the video below to find out more about Alberto Contador's bike.
Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*
Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets
After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59
Join now for unlimited access
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1