Adelaide - Australian police said on Monday they were investigating allegations that cycling star Stuart O'Grady assaulted a chauffeur while on a night out with friends.
O'Grady, one of the longest-serving Aussies in the professional peloton and a former Paris-Roubaix champion, strongly denied the claims which first appeared in an Adelaide newspaper on Sunday.
They emerged before the start of the Tour Down Under on Tuesday, in which O'Grady is hoping to play a key role for his GreenEdge team.
The report said he assaulted the chauffeur on January 10 while in a small group that was being driven from a function at an Adelaide Hills winery.
"A report has been taken and it is being investigated," police said in a statement. "There will be no further comment from police while this matter is under investigation."
But O'Grady rubbished the claims on Monday, expressing his dismay at the timing of the allegations shortly before his new team make their debut in cycling's top series the WorldTour.
"I think it's pretty outrageous and I'm very disappointed," O'Grady said.
"I was a guest speaker at a dinner, it was a fantastic night. I just find it very bizarre, the timing.
"If I had done any of these accusations it has taken one week to come out.
"It is very strange circumstances."
O'Grady, who said his wife and two friends were also in the car and would back his version of events, claimed he was the victim of a "stunt".
"I actually called him (the chauffeur) to apologise for having a bit of fun in his car and he got quite aggressive," O'Grady said. "Nothing happened, there is no story."
"I'm trying to concentrate on a big race and someone out there obviously isn't a cycling fan. Or a Stuey fan. So there you go," he added.