Movistar explains controversial instructions to hide bike at Vuelta a Espana

by Shane Stokes


Responding to the controversy thrown up after suggestions by La Gazzetto dello Sport that one of the Movistar team bikes may have a motor, the Movistar squad has dismissed the claims.

A video posted on the newspaper’s website on Sunday showed a team car stopping by the side of the road, taking a bike off the roof and handing it plus a seat post to another team employee.

Their exchange, in Spanish, was the following.

Mechanic: Carry this to the car, carry this to the car.
Soigneur: Ok.
Mechanic: Take it!
Soigneur: Don’t worry, I’ll put it away.
Mechanic: Hide it so no one see it, nobody is coming

The frame appeared to be broken near the insert point of the seatpin and Jose Luis Arrieta, the team’s directeur sportif, said that this was the reason for the urgency and secrecy apparent in the spectator-recorded video.

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“We do not like to show the broken material out of respect to the manufacturer [Canyon],” he stated. “It is a move that we do routinely.

“We wanted to do so to get the bike mechanic as soon as possible in order to have more time to change the frame for the next stage. Since there was also a battery problem [to move the front and rear derailleurs – ed] and its wires, we wanted faster work. For this we had already removed the saddle.”

CyclingTips sought comment from both the team and Canyon. The former refered to Arrieta’s comments, as published by La Gazzetta; at the time of writing, the latter had not issued an official response.

The controversy brings to mind the furore which occurred when Alberto Contador crashed out of the 2014 Tour de France. His bike appeared badly damaged on the roofrack, prompting questions about whether a frame failure led to his crash.

It later emerged that his spare bike was not secured properly to the roof of the car and had become entangled at speed in a Team Belkin bike.

The UCI conducted a test for motors at the end of Saturday’s stage of the Vuelta a España. The bikes of race leader Fabio Aru (Astana), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) were all examined and no anomolies were detected.

UPDATE: Canyon’s response to the incident was the following:


“Removing damaged equipment away from the view of spectators is nothing new in cycling or any other professional sport. We have complete trust in the teams we supply when it comes to how they handle our bikes. We know how much professionalism they bring to their work having built up a close relationship with their staff over the years. As no Canyon representatives are currently attending the Vuelta a España, please direct any further queries to Movistar Team, who have already made a statement on this matter. “

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