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Is Demare’s alleged cheating actually a step forward?

Jordan Gibbons
21 Mar 2016

Could these allegations be the catalyst to usher in a new era of live ride tracking technology and telemetry?

In case you’ve not heard, Arnaud Demare won the 2016 Milan-San Remo despite being caught up in a crash 30km from the finish line at the foot of the Cipressa. No one else from his group made it back to the sharp end of the race, making Demare’s victory sprint one of the best recoveries in racing history. Except there’s the potential it might not have been entirely legit.

Matteo Tosatto and Eros Capecchi have both independently accused Demare of taking a tow from a team car up the Cipressa. Demare originally uploaded his ride to Strava (although he’s now taken it down) and the data suggested he was the quickest up the Cipressa that day – faster even than Visconti who attacked the bunch from the front…

It all sounds rather suspicious, but without any photo or video evidence of the alleged incident there’s not much that can really be done. A few people have suggested that RCS demand Demare’s power files as it would be pretty clear if he’s taking a tow or not if the power meter data is inspected but, unless ordered by a court, Demare is under no obligation to hand them over and even then they could easily be tampered with. So what could prevent this happening in future? 

Quarq Race Intelligence

Put simply, Quarq Race Intelligence is a data transmitter. It connects to the saddle of a bike with the potential to transmit speed, power, cadence, heart rate and current position. The idea is that this can be sent out to teams, tv crews and fans to increase insight and enjoyment for those watching the sport. F1 has had this technology for years (including a programmed time delay on certain metrics to prevent rivals using the data).

It could also, potentially, prevent cheating. If the power, speed and heart rate are independently collected not only would you be able to very easily spot ‘sticky bottle’ incidents, it would also entirely eliminate motor doping (as it would be very obvious in the data). Live power data would also likely put to bed (or potentially just add fuel) to the constant w/kg climbing debates.

But way more importantly, it would make cycling much more exciting to watch. Too long has race coverage and live time gaps been dependent on dodgy GPS transmitters attached to the TV motorbikes. This could genuinely revolutionise the way we watch cycling and if it help clean it up too then that’s even better.

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