The Italian amateur cyclist alleged to have ridden a bike with a concealed motor at a race in Lombardy at the weekend has said that he couldn't hang around for officials to check it because he had a wedding to go to and that his improved performances in recent months are down to his recovery from a back injury. He also said he couldn't remember who sold him the bike, and raised suspicions on the riders who beat him at the race.
As we reported yesterday, a bike belonging to 53-year-old Alessandro Andreoli was among those checked at a race near Brescia on Saturday in which he finished third. Riders had been warned beforehand that the bikes of the first five finishers would be tested afterwards due to rumours that some riders in the region were using illegal mechanical assistance.
Race organisers had borrowed thermal imaging equipment that they said led to the discovery of a motor concealed in the seat post of his bike. It was reported that after agreeing to have the frame examined by a mechanic to ascertain whether there indeed was a motor hidden within it, he then made off, saying he would "suspend myself."
But speaking to Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, he maintained his innocence and came out with a string of excuses.
He said he’d bought the bike in the Tuscan seaside town of Forte dei Marmi from a stranger.
“I don’t remember his name or even his telephone number,” he claimed. “We met in the street, I liked the bike, I made him an offer, and bought it.”
Asked why he didn’t accompany the race judges to have the bike checked out, he said that he was running late for a wedding.
When the newspaper questioned him about the improvement in his performances in recent months, he said: “I had a bad back. Now it’s cured, and I’m training well.”
The Gazzetta dello Sport asked him if he could explain why he had been excluded from the result of the race.
“Um .. I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe because they say I had a motor? So also, the riders who finished with me had a motor. I saw lots of them who were in front of me who weren’t having to make much of an effort.”
The president of the Costa Volpino team that Andreoli was riding for didn’t mince his words, however.
Alfio Bettoni runs a bike shop founded by his father in 1974, and said: “We’ve always been honest and followed the law, we’re honest business and sports people.
“Andreoli used to be a good customer, but since he got this bike a few months ago, we’ve not seen him.”
He said that when he spoke to Andreoli after news of the alleged hidden motor broke, the rider “denied everything.”
He added that Andreoli called him later, asking him if he was worried. “Nothing’s happened that concerns you,” he was told. “It’s solely my fault.”
Bettoni said: “He took me for a total idiot. This morning [ie Monday] my lawyer is back from holiday and I will go straight to him.”
Initial reports were that the bike was from the Argon 18 brand, but the company has said that after studying photos, the geometry does not match any of its models and that decals purporting it to be one of its bikes have been added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.