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Team Tinkoff hurled accusations at motorbikes following Sunday’s thrilling final stage at Paris-Nice, asserting that TV motorbikes assisted Team Sky in their pursuit of the attacking Alberto Contador.

Photo: A.S.O.

ALBERTO CONTADOR

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GERAINT THOMAS

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TIRRENO - ADRIATICO

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14.03.2016 @ 08:50 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

The Paris-Nice race was hit by controversy after the final stage saw Geraint Thomas successfully defend his slim lead over Alberto Contador. According to Team Tinkoff, the Welshman was only able to do so because of illegal pacing from official motorbikes.

 

“That’s not sour grapes, that’s the truth,” Tinkoff sport director Sean Yates told VeloNews. “The motorbikes were a disgrace once again, and they ruined the race. In my opinion, if the motorbike didn’t help tow that group back, Alberto would have won the race,” Yates continued. “We were screaming at the [UCI] commissaries to do something. There’s no way they [Sky] would have shut that down.”

 

Yates also desiccated the race, pointing out the tiny distinctions that proved decisive in determining the outcome of the race. The cancellation of the short but steep Mount Brouilly summit finale in stage 4 worked against Tinkoff, he claimed, but he also acknowledged that Contador was on the wrong side of a split when the group fractured in the bunch sprint in stage 2.

 

“Losing that stage chipped away at one of our opportunities to win the race, and the prologue favoured Thomas and Porte,” Yates said. “Alberto lost four seconds in that split. When that happened, I said, ‘let’s hope that doesn’t come back to bite us.’ And that’s exactly what the winning difference was — four seconds.”

 

On the final climb on Col d’Èze, Contador repeatedly attacked until he finally managed to open up a gap on Thomas, but the Welshman was able to bridge that gap with other chasers coming into Nice, and managed to hang on to victory by just four seconds. Thomas poured scorn on suggestions that the motorbikes might have helped the chase to close down Contador’s early attack.

 

“They can say what they want. We won,” Thomas said. “You can also say that they had bikes in front of them on the climb.”

 

The Tinkoff vs. SKY rivalry is set to continue throughout the season. The next encounter will be at the Volta a Catalunya from March 21 to March 27 when Froome and Contador square off in what promises to be an exciting appetizer for this year’s Tour de France.

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