This year's Maratona dles Dolomites was completely unexpectedly won by Italian Stefano Stagni. Soon after the finish a fuss arose: the 27-year-old ex-volleyball player, a complete stranger to the gran fondo world, would have used a motor. Although this has not been proven, the organization of the Maratona will introduce a check on the use of mechanical assistance starting next year.
It all starts with the instagram account Solowattagio, which shared footage from the live TV recording shortly after the race. This would show Stagni pressing a button on top of his shifter several times. Since he was using a mechanical Shimano group, these could never have been the extra buttons that the Di2 variant does have. According to Stagni, however, it was a random movement. But there was more that Solowattagio noticed. For example, Stagni rode a different bike than usual. According to Stagni because his own bike had a mechanical problem. But it doesn't end there. Immediately after the finish his bike was exchanged for the broken one he normally uses. According to Stagni because 3 bikes of his had already been stolen this season and he didn't want his new bike to be stolen.
Solowattagio finally suggested that he always ride 10-15 meters behind the leading group so that he stays out of sight of the TV cameras. Meanwhile, Stagni's ride was labeled "suspicious" on Strava, as hundreds of Strava users flagged it. Later, Strava reversed this. Many people were suspicious because Stagni took the KOM on the Colle St. Lucia with as much as a minute's difference.
Day after the accusations, Stagni comes out with a lengthy statement on his Instagram in Italian. You can read back the automatically translated English version of that here. CycloWorld also spoke with Stagni:
"[The accusations] are completely untrue."
Stagni thus says he is innocent and announced steps this Solowattagio. He shared the file from his Garmin, but since his new bike did not have a power meter, its value is limited. So, in summary, it remains with rumors and there isn't any hard evidence. And there probably never will be. Stagni remains the winner, though he will always be the one "accused of".
In the meantime, the storm seemed to die, until the national Italian newspaper Corrierre della Sera dives on it. Now the case suddenly becomes global news, especially after the globally very well-known Cyclingtips also came out with a piece.
What initially seemed like a small story, suddenly becomes big and so the organization is forced to come up with a statement. There is one now: from next year there will be a check on motor-doping.