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American riders support increased motor checks, laud UCI efforts

  • By Andrew Hood
  • Published Feb. 22, 2016
  • Updated Feb. 22, 2016 at 1:19 PM EDT
The riders in the peloton support the UCI's efforts to check bikes for hidden motors. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The more checks for motors, the better; that’s according to members of the American professional riders association.

Cycling is still reeling from the shocking discovery of a bicycle equipped with a motor during the cyclocross world championships in January. Representatives from the ANAPRC, the American arm of the international riders’ group, said more checks are the best way to deter any would-be cheats.

“I welcome the surprise bike inspections, like what the UCI did at La Méditerranéenne, and I think the entire peloton wants that to continue across the race calendar,” Sky’s Ian Boswell said. “With a solid testing program, teams won’t try this in the first place.”

As Boswell mentioned, the UCI made high-profile checks at La Méditerranéenne earlier this month, and the UCI promises more unannounced checks throughout the season. With bike scans and checks going back to 2010, no motor-assisted bikes have been found at a road race.

The UCI has not completed its final investigation into the Belgian incident involving under-23 rider Femke Van den Driessche, but it continues its aggressive line trying to prevent motor-assisted bikes from worming their way into the elite road racing peloton.

The possibility of motor-assisted bikes has become a hot-button issue inside the peloton, and has even become a political issue. Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme recently suggested that until the UCI can convincingly prove it has a handle on the threat, the powerful French organizer will not move forward with possible negotiations to break a deadlock over the WorldTour.

Last week, the Cyclists Professionnels Associés (CPA) encouraged efforts by the UCI to get ahead of any possible abuse. CPA president Gianni Bugno supported the UCI efforts, and backed the idea to “heavily punish” anyone caught red-handed, and said the CPA is fully cooperating with bike manufacturers and the UCI to “improve and refine the controls,” as well as working to make the controls “the most precise and quick as possible.”

The American representatives of the CPA, dubbed the Association of North American Professional Road Cyclists (ANAPRC), said they wholly support the UCI, and even promise to report and forward via its members to the UCI of any rumors or tips of possible abuses.

“ANAPRC is glad to serve as a link between the rumor mill of the pro peloton and the UCI officials responsible for detecting technological fraud,” ANAPRC executive director Michael Carcaise said. “ANAPRC members can pass information to us, which will be [anonymous] and supplied to the right people at the UCI.”

Following years of doping scandals, the last thing cycling needs is a full-blown abuse of motor-assisted bikes inside the elite road peloton. Officials in Belgium said they are ready to buy an expensive, but highly effective, detection device for future checks. Motors are relatively easy to detect, and technology is improving to make testing faster and easier, serving as another deterrent against their use.

ANAPRC president Christian Vande Velde said the UCI deserves credit for getting ahead of the possibility of “motorized doping,” and said the UCI’s insistent testing has sent a strong signal to any would-be cheaters in the road peloton.

“Cookson and the UCI are getting the job done on motor fraud,” Vande Velde said. “It is too risky to try this in a road race, and it will stay that way as long as the UCI flashes their muscle with effective testing. I give the UCI credit for being proactive on this. They have been testing for a few years already.”

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Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood cut his journalistic teeth at Colorado dailies before the web boom opened the door to European cycling in the mid-1990s. Hood has covered every Tour de France since 1996 and has been VeloNews' European correspondent since 2002.

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