Tour de France: Nairo Quintana defends holding onto motorbike in Ventoux chaos

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) has denied any wrong doing after a video shot by a roadside fan during the chaos in stage 12 on Mont Ventoux showed him holding onto a Mavic neutral service motorbike.

Thursday's stage ended in confusion when the crowds blocked the road, motorbikes hit the brakes and Chris Froome (Team Sky), Richie Porte (BMC) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) crashed into a television motorbike. Other riders, including Quintana, were slowed or blocked by the incident as Froome ran up the road towards the finish before taking a neutral service bike and then a spare bike from his team.

Froome was initially shown as slipping to sixth in the overall classification, 53 seconds down on Adam Yates (Orica-Bike Exchange). However, officials revised the results, using some kind of unspecified fair play rule, giving Froome and Porte the same finishing time as Mollema. That meant that Froome kept his yellow jersey and he went on to extend his lead in Friday's time trial. 

Quintana seemed to have avoided the chaos but then the video – shot from the roadside by a spectator - emerged and seemed to catch him hanging onto the Mavic motorbike.

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Did Quintana some how cheat and try to limit his losses by grabbing hold of a spare wheel on the back of the Mavic motorbike? Or was he just trying to avoid crashing in the chaos of the moment caused by the fans, poor race organisation and too many race vehicles in the final two kilometres of the race.

Quintana avoided any questions about the video on Friday during the time trial stage but could not avoid the media before the start of stage 14.

"There was a moto and I went over to the right and then the moto went up on the right of me, I grabbed it because it hit me," he explained to Belgian sports channel Sporza and Cyclingnews in Montelimar.

"Afterwards, I let go of it and moved away."

The polemic continues

Quintana's actions have sparked further debate about fair play and cheating in the peloton. Rival directeur sportif Beppe Martinelli of Astana posted on Twitter: "Il vergine del giro 2014 –the virgin of the 2014 Giro,' remembering how Quintana took advantage of confusion and an announced neutralization in a snow storm on the climb of the Stelvio during the 2014 Giro d'Italia to gain precious time on the descent.

Several other riders retweeted the video. However, Movistar manager Eusebio Unzue, exonerated the Colombian.

"I find it funny… Let 's see if we are blamed... Nairo held onto so as not to fall and cut into hand. Instead, a very unfortunate decision of the judges benefited others," Spanish sports newspaper AS reported Unzue as saying, seemingly pointing to the decision to give Froome back the time he lost in the incident.

Team Sky avoided any polemic. Nicolas Portal, the lead directeur sportif at the British squad told AS: "Surely he did it to avoid problems, either to avoid the traffic jam or a fall," he said.

Chris Froome agreed with Portal. "Quintana tried to avoid a fall. When there are so many cars and bikes, you try to stay safe. It's nothing," Sporza reported Froome as saying.

However, the Trek team was angered by the judges' decision to give Froome and Porte time and the apparent lack of punishment for Quintana.

"This is a punishable action. And, again, the loser is my cyclist," Trek-Segafredo directeur sportif Alain Gallopin was quoted as saying.

Media type: Twitter
Media src:
Media caption: The video catches Quintana holding a motorbike at the Tour de France

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