The video that set off years of motor-related conspiracy theories shows Fabian Cancellara in slow motion, first breaking away from a select group at at Paris-Roubaix and then dropping Tom Boonen at Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). An arrow points to his right hand at key moments. He’s pushing a button to turn on the motor, the video implies. It has over 4 million views on YouTube.
With the revelation that Belgian Femke Van den Driessche may have utilized a motorized crankset at the cyclocross world championships, the story has returned to the headlines.
“That’s an old story,” Trek – Segafredo’s Cancellara said after VeloNews requested his opinion of the old YouTube video at the Dubai Tour, clearly unenthusiastic about the question. “I have not even had time to look into it. I know there are a lot of stories going on. I want to wait until there is an official statement from all the parties, that’s how it should be.”
The theory behind the video — that Cancellara used a motor to take major monument wins — was widely discredited when it was released, as viewers pointed out that the hand movement was more likely tapping a shift lever than an ignition switch. Cancellara laughed it off at the time.
Ryder Hesjedal laughed too, quite literally, after a separate video surfaced that appeared to show his bike spinning oddly away from him after a crash. He had his bike checked a few months later at the Giro d’Italia, and UCI officials found nothing inside.
The UCI maintains it has credible evidence of the use of motors in racing, and has kept up a constant stream of bike tests at major events using a variety of detection techniques.
Bradley Wiggins, who is in Dubai racing for his Team Wiggins development team, believes that motors may have been used in the past.
“It’s been around for a while, hasn’t it,” Wiggins said Tuesday. “For five years now they’ve had this suspicion, they’ve been checking the bikes. I’m sure it’s happened in the past but they haven’t found them.”
Cancellara had little to add, urging caution and patience as the UCI investigates.
“If it’s true or not, I have no idea,” he said. “What the UCI is going to do, I don’t know. It’s just funny that there are a lot of speculations on new things, on this thing, on old things. I think we will see what will come.”
When asked whether motorized cheating should see heavier penalties than physiological doping, Cancellara began to speak but was interrupted by Trek team manager Luca Guercilena, who said, “Excuse me, are we talking about the bike tour, or engines?” Thus ended the line of questioning.