‘Cheating In Cycling…Yet Again’

“Pro cycling was rocked…when 19-year-old Belgian rider Femke Van den Driessche, competing in the cyclocross world championships, was caught with a bicycle that had a motor hidden in the frame…” INSIDE SPORTS, Cheating In Cycling...Yet Again, 800x800“Cycling officials…detained a bicycle ridden during the cyclocross world championships in Zolder, Belgium, to investigate “technological fraud”, and on Sunday they confirmed the bike had a concealed motor in the frame. 

“The ‘International Cycling Union’ said the bike belonged to 19-year-old Belgian Femke Van den Driessche.

“It is the first official case of “mechanical doping” or “bike doping” at cycling’s highest level. If used at the right time during a race, even a small motor can provide a critical burst of power and speed.

“Italian manufacturer ‘Wilier Triestina’ said it will sue Van den Driessche.

“For years, there has been speculation in cycling that motorized cheating might be happening at the sport’s highest professional level, but it has never been revealed until now.

“It’s absolutely clear that there was technological fraud — there was a concealed motor”, ‘UCI’ President Brian Cookson told a news conference…  

Motorized bike“The rider, Van den Driessche, was among the race favorites but was forced to withdraw from the women’s under-23 event because of a mechanical problem. Belgian news site ‘Sporza’ reported that there were “electrical cables” seen coming out of the bike. 

“…AFP also reported that Belgian coach Rudy De Bie said he was “disgusted.”

“We thought that we had in Femke a great talent in the making but it seems that she fooled everyone”, he told ‘Sporza’.

“Sven Nys, a veteran of cyclocross and one of its best riders, said he was shocked and disappointed.

“We’ve heard some stories for a long time now about the possibility of this. We have been alive to a potential way that people might cheat and we have been testing a number of bikes and a number of events for several months”, Cookson said, according to AFP.

“I am committed and the UCI is committed to protecting the riders who do not want to cheat in whatever form and to make sure that the right riders win the race. We have been looking at different methods of testing this kind of technology and we tested a number of bikes yesterday and one was found.

“We will keep testing both at this event and subsequent events. Whether this means that there is widespread use of this form of cheating remains to be seen.”

“Cookson said that the matter would next go before the UCI’s disciplinary commission. wilier_logo_2‘Here come the lawsuits’
“Bike manufacturer Wilier Triestina’s managing director, Andrea Gastaldello, said he was “stunned” by the news that Van den Driessche competed with a concealed motor in her Wilier Triestina bike, AP reported Monday.

“Our company will take legal action against the athlete and against any (person) responsible for this very serious matter to safeguard the reputation and image of the company”, he said.

“Here is the full statement: 

“We are literally shocked, as the main technical partner, we want to distance from this act absolutely contrary to the basic values of our company, and with the principles of each sporting competition. Really unacceptable that the photos of our bike are making the rounds of the international media due to this unpleasant fact. We work every day to bring worldwide the quality of our products and when we know that a Wilier Triestina bike is meanly tampered we’re very sad. Our Company will take legal action against the athlete and against any responsible for this very serious matter, in order to safeguard the good name and image of the company, marked by professionalism and seriousness in 110 years of history.”

“’Etixx’ team manager Patrick Lefevere called for a “lifetime suspension for the cheat”.

“I never thought that such schemes were possible. It’s a scandal that Femke’s entourage have deceived the Belgian federation”, he said.

“The news is a fresh blow to a sport still recovering from the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, after the disgraced American cyclist admitted to cheating throughout his career in 2013 following years of denials and ruthless attacks on his accusers, AFP noted. Lance Armstrong“The UCI has been taking the possibility of technological fraud more seriously over the past few years. New penalties include disqualification, a suspension of six months, and a fine of up to 200,000 Swiss francs (about $195,000). Teams could be fined 1 million francs (roughly $977,500)…

“’Business Insider’ reported in September from the ‘UCI Road World Championships’ in Richmond, Virginia, that the winner of the elite men’s individual time trial, Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus, had his bike inspected for a motor after he crossed the finish line… No motor was found in Kiryienka’s bike…

“I believe it’s been used in racing [and] I believe it’s been used sometimes in the Grand Tours”,

Greg LeMond, the only American to win the ‘Tour de France’, told the Associated Press last summer…” {See below…}

–’A 19-year-old Belgian cyclist got caught cheating at the world championships after racing a bike that had a motor hidden in the frame’,
Daniel McMahon, Business Insider, Feb. 1, 2016

http://www.businessinsider.com/bike-investigated-technological-fraud-cycling-world-championships-cyclocross-2016-1 Femke Van den Driessche“For her part, Van den Driessche said it wasn’t her bike and insisted she was “totally unaware” it was fitted with a hidden motor.

“In the meantime, curious observers are talking about the ‘Vivax Assist’, a small motor that’s inserted into a bike frame and activated by pushing a button that’s installed on the handlebar. It weighs about 4 pounds, can produce up to 110 watts of power, and costs $3,000.

“’Business Insider’ spoke on Tuesday with Vivax’s Ulrike Treichl, who is in charge of the company’s marketing and PR. She said she was shocked upon hearing the news over the weekend that a competitive cyclist had been caught with a hidden motor in her bike, but made it clear that Vivax has no idea whether or not the motor used was one of its own.

“We can’t say if she used our motor but of course, maybe she used it”, Treichl said. “We don’t know. For us, it very disappointing when a product that can bring great a benefit to many customers is used for other intents, for that is really unacceptable.

“The system is not intended for use in competition”, she added. “This was not in the mind of the inventor. And we’d like to say we condemn the use of the ‘Vivax Assist’ system in competition.”

“Treichl said Vivax sells 1,200 motors a year and is the only company in Europe that makes such a product. Vivax does not deliver to private persons but works strictly through distributors.

“No one connected to the cyclist had purchased products from Vivax, Treichl added.

“We also welcome the inspection of the UCI, and hope that a rethink in competitive sport takes place, and that fairness is first and forward again”, Treichl said. “We’d like to sell the Vivax only to cyclists who use additional assistance if needed, and not to people who are going to competition.”

“One of Vivax’s “premium dealers” in Belgium, Bart Daems of ‘t Wieleke’ bike shop, which has sold and installed the Vivax Assist system many times, told Business Insider on Tuesday that he himself is fairly confident the bike detained had a Vivax motor.

“I think it’s almost sure that she used it”, Daems said Tuesday. “It’s not so heavy. The complete system is 2 kilos, and that includes the battery. It’s not that big. And we can make batteries that fit in the tubes of the frame.”

“Daems told ‘Business Insider’ that two years ago his shop sold a Vivax system to a local amateur rider. Later, Daems said, he encountered “a little bit strange” situation when he suddenly started seeing that rider’s name appear in race results online. (Daems declined to reveal the rider’s identity.)

“We called him and told him, and, well, we dismounted his system. We gave back a part of his money”, Daems said. “I think in the amateur circuit, for sure there will be some guys that will use [a motor], because there are no UCI.”

“Daems said that at his shop most Vivax installs are in road bikes, though some are installed in “fitness bikes”. vivax-logo“Like other observers, Daems pointed to Van den Driessche’s remarkable performance during an earlier race this season, the ‘Koppenbergcross’, which features a tough climb that often plays a key role in the race’s outcome.

“She stayed [seated] on the saddle, and for the Vivax system, it’s best that you stay on the saddle”, Daems said. “Your rpm’s from the saddle are from 70 to 90, and then you have the best effect from the motor. That’s what she did on the Koppenberg.

“All the other girls were standing up on the pedals, and she was the only one sitting”, he said.

“Daems added that detecting whether a motor is in a bike frame is simple enough.

“You can download in the App Store an app for magnetic search”, he said. “With a simple app you can find the motor, because the motor is [made] from steel and the frame is carbon. You can see the difference in the material.”

cheating motorized bike“Until the UCI announces its decision in the case of Van den Driessche, cycling observers will be left wondering about her concealed motor, while Italian manufacturer Wilier Triestina said it will sue Van den Driessche.


“For Vivax, the message it wants to share with the world is clear.

“Not to use any doping — to do everything from your own power”, Treichl said. “This motor is not made for competition. If I were in a competition, I would have to do it with my own power. If I am not able to do it, it’s better to be a hobby biker.”

–’This is the ‘hidden motor’ everyone’s been talking about since a ‘mechanical doping’ scandal rocked pro racing’,
Daniel McMahon, Business Insider, Feb. 2, 2016

“It’s also worth noting that Femke Van den Driessche’s brother Niels is currently suspended due to EPO usage.”


http://www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/dmf20160130_02100237 Greg LeMond
From July, 2015:
‘Forget doping, Greg LeMond thinks Tour de France riders could be cheating with tiny motors’

“Retired cyclist Greg LeMond is used to speaking his mind, especially when it comes to cheating in the sport. The three-time ‘Tour de France’ champion spoke out about Lance Armstrong long before it was popular to do so and now he’s alleging some cyclists could be gaining an unfair edge in major races like the Tour de France by installing tiny motors in their bikes.

“I believe it’s been used in racing, I believe it’s been used sometimes in the Grand Tours”,

LeMond told the ‘Associated Press’ on Wednesday. He did not specify whether he thought any riders in this year’s iteration of the race have been using the technology, but he did accuse the sport’s governing body of “not doing enough” to ensure racers don’t use the technology. He said the ‘International Cycling Union’s (UCI) pre-race equipment checks are “fluff” and “all words.”

“UCI President Brian Cookson, however, says his team takes all accusations of cheating seriously, including “mechanical doping” as it’s coming to be known.

“We understand that although this subject sometimes causes amusement and derision we know that the technology is available: we have seen examples of it in laboratory conditions”,

Cookson told AFP last week after Cedric Vasseur, a former cyclist-turned-analyst on French television, commented Tour de France leader Chris Froome’s bike looked to be “pedaling itself.”

“We’ve done some testing already for concealed motors”, Cookson said.

“But the testing has only been done periodically.

“[W]e’ve done testing at Milan-San Remo, the Giro (d’Italia), Paris-Nice and from time to time we’ll do tests during the rest of the season”, he said. “We have no evidence that it has been used in competition yet but sadly, we do know that in competitive sport sometimes, some people will try to find ways of cheating. This is one way that would be very damaging and dangerous to an individual’s reputation, a team’s reputation and to the sport’s reputation, so we’re taking it very seriously.”

“The miniscule motors may sound more like science fiction than reality, but the technology does seem to exist — at least on television. During the 2010 ‘Giro d’Italia’, retired cyclist Davide Cassani demonstrated how the motor works on Italy’s Rai television:

“Hidden in the bike’s tube, the battery-operated motor is controlled by a switch located near the bike’s brake levers. Once the motor gets the back wheel spinning on its own, the pedals start to go and a rider presumably just needs to go through the motions while the motor propels him at up to 31 mph.

“I tried the bike, and I can tell you that with this bike and its engine, I may win a Giro stage although I’m 50 years old”, Cassani said.

“Italian journalist Michele Bufalino later backed up Cassani’s claims in a video of his own, in which he showed one of the motors being installed. He also then accused cyclist Fabian Cancellara of using it during both the ‘Tour of Flanders’ and ‘Paris-Roubaix’.
https://youtu.be/8Nd13ARuvVEFabian Cancellara_1“Cancellara, who now races for ‘Trek Factory Racing’, denied the allegations at the time.

“It’s so stupid, I’m speechless”, Cancellara, then of the ‘Saxo Bank’ team, told the ‘Telegraph’ in 2010. “I’ve never had batteries on my bike.”

“The UCI never brought a case against Cancellara, but the organization also had no evidence.

“LeMond says if any type of cheating in cycling should be easy to decisively determine, it should be this, though.

“It’s simple to check for, much easier than doping”, he told ‘CyclingNews.com’ in May. “You need a thermal heat gun, you can use it in the race. It can be seen from meters away if there a difference in the heat in the bottom bracket. I’d recommend that to the UCI.”

“LeMond, who claims to have met the inventor of the motorized bikes, also suggests UCI ban cyclists from changing bikes during the race “unless you have a real mechanical problem.”

“I know that motors exist, I’ve ridden a bike with one. … If people think they don’t exist, they’re fooling themselves, so I think it’s a justified suspicion”, he said. “It seems too incredible that someone would do it, but I know it’s real.”

–‘Forget doping, Greg LeMond thinks Tour de France riders could be cheating with tiny motors’,
Marissa Payne, Washington Post, July 23, 2015

‘Hidden motors for road bikes exist — here’s how they work’  

“The motor is connected to a battery pack via the electronic control unit housed in the seatpost provided. By default the battery lives in a saddlebag, but it can also be concealed in a bidon seated in the seatpost bidon cage (more on that in a moment).

A simple button to start and stop the motor is then mounted on the underside of the handlebars and “routed to the control unit in the seat post.

“The Vivax assist motor is rated at 200 watts (the maximum for e-bikes in Australia is 250W, beyond which they are classified as motorbikes) but in reality, we were told, the unit provides somewhere in the vicinity of 110W to the driveshaft. This is in addition to whatever the rider is pushing through the pedals.

“There are two main battery options available: one that provides a total of 60 minutes of power assist and one that provides 90 minutes. The motor weighs 750g, the 60-minute battery accounts for 900g and the total package is 1.8kg. For the 90-minute battery option you’re looking at an extra 400g…” 

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