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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary

Fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run. - Rudyard Kipling

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Femke Van de Dressche given a six-year racing ban for
"mechanical doping
"

Belgian racer Femke Van den Driessche was found to have a hidden electric motor in her bike while competing in the Under-23 Women's UCI World Cyclocross Championships in January of this year. She has been handed a six-year racing suspension and ordered to pay a 20,000 Swiss Franc fine.

She denies intentionally using the motorized bike, saying it belonged to a friend of hers and she used the bike in the race after hers became unusable.

Citing the costs involved, she chose not to defend herself and announced her immediate retirement.

Before going on, I've been given permission to post an email I got from a reader discussing this form of cheating. Here it is, a bit redacted:

...I find not only more rumours of motors in bikes but a TV programme that proves them. The pictures probably told enough of the tale. I’ve just had a chance to watch the programme about bike motors. I expected little more than thermal images that could have meant anything but the whole thing was damning.

There were films of a rider whose bike began turning as the pedals continued to turn in circles even though he’d fallen off it and it was lying on the ground. How Cancellara repeatedly changed bikes before making devastating efforts; how Contador became suddenly stronger after changing his back wheel or, yet again, his bike at the start of a climb (and Cipollini on Italian TV saying he just didn’t believe what he was seeing); how a rider could just waltz away from Boonen on the Grammont after an odd touch of his brake lever while going uphill.

And, to me, incriminating footage of Chris Froome and a mention that the team had supplied his physical statistics, which suddenly appeared irrelevant. And a comment by the former head of the French anti-doping agency that he knew motors had been fitted by riders of a high level.

“Yes. Of a high level.”

“Of a very high level?”

“Yes, a very high level.”

Explanations and demonstrations of how these things were made and fitted, how they could be operated even from a mobile phone beside the road to avoid telltale finger movements.

And, really intriguing, a demonstration of an early, heavy motor which worked best when pedalled unusually quickly. The conversation with the maker of the motor went like this:

“This was available in the 1990s?”

“Yes.”

“And it worked best when climbing mountains in an unusually low gear?”

“Yes.”

“We saw a lot of that in the 1990s.”

Wry smile.

“Yes, we did.”

There may have been more to the Armstrong story than we have yet heard.

Here is the UCI release regarding the Van den Driessche decision:

The UCI announces Disciplinary Commission decision in the case of Femke Van den Driessche

26 April 2016

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) today announces that its Disciplinary Commission has rendered its decision in the case of Belgian rider Femke Van den Driessche.

The UCI Disciplinary Commission issued the following decision:

Ms Femke Van den Driessche is found to have committed a violation of art. 1.3.010 in combination with art. 12.013bis (Technological fraud) of the UCI Regulations;

Ms Femke Van den Driessche is suspended for a period of 6 years starting from and including October 11, 2015 and ending on October 10, 2021;

As a consequence of her suspension, all competitive results achieved by Ms Femke Van den Driessche from and inclusive October 11, 2015, shall be disqualified. Her name and results shall be removed from the concerned ranking lists and Ms Femke Van den Driessche shall no longer hold any corresponding title (notably Under 23 European Champion title and Under 23 Belgian Champion title);

Ms Femke Van den Driessche is ordered to return the medals and the prize-monies she received in connection with the disqualified competitions to the respective organisers;

Ms Femke Van den Driessche is ordered to pay to the UCI a fine in the amount of CHF 20’000;

Ms Femke Van den Driessche shall pay the costs of the proceedings in an amount which will be determined in the full reasoned decision.

This decision follows the discovery of a concealed electric motor in one of the rider’s bikes during checks at the Women Under 23 race of the UCI Cyclo­cross World Championships in January 2016. The bike concerned was scanned using the new magnetic resonance testing deployed this year by the UCI. This detected the motor whilst the bike was in the rider’s pit area. The motor was a Vivax which was concealed along with a battery in the seat-tube. It was controlled by a Bluetooth switch installed underneath the handlebar tape.

Over 100 bikes were scanned at the event and this new method of testing has proven in trials to be extremely effective in locating hidden motors or other forms of technological fraud as it quickly detects motors, magnetic fields and solid objects concealed in a frame or components.

The UCI has tested bikes at many races in different disciplines this year (for example 274 at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in London, 216 at the Tour of Flanders, 232 at Paris-Roubaix, 173 at the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège). It will continue to test heavily in all disciplines throughout the year.

UCI President Brian Cookson said: “We have invested considerable resources in developing this new and highly effective scanning technology and also in strengthening the sanctions applicable to anyone found cheating in this way. This case is a major victory for the UCI and all those fans, riders and teams who want to be assured that we will keep this form of cheating out of our sport.”

Dylan Teuns to Continue with BMC Racing Team

BMC sent me this release:

26 April, 2016, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team today announced the extension of Dylan Teuns' contract beyond the 2016 season.

Teuns, who is a graduate of the BMC Development Team, is an excellent rider to retain in BMC Racing Team's roster, General Manager Jim Ochowicz said.

"It was an obvious decision to keep a rider like Dylan Teuns in the team. Since transitioning from BMC Development Team to BMC Racing Team and spending the past two seasons with us, he has proven time and time again that he has a strong ability to ride in a WorldTour team. He's a very capable rider and is still coming into his own form and finding his place in the peloton alongside his teammates," Ochowicz said.

"He has showed very good results, especially lately in the Ardennes Classics, and he has a great future ahead of him in BMC Racing Team. As one of six riders who have graduated from BMC Development Team to BMC Racing Team, Dylan is a fantastic example of how these riders not only make it into the professional peloton, but also excel."

For Teuns, the decision to remain with BMC Racing Team was a natural one. "I have been within the BMC family for quite a few years now and feel at home in the team. I have really developed as a rider in the past two years since turning pro and I think that I can continue to develop well with the team and get good results in bigger races," Teuns said.

"It was a really natural decision because I have a lot of support from the BMC Racing Team management and my teammates, which I felt during the Ardennes Classics, so I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season and beyond."

In keeping with BMC Racing Team policy, no other terms or conditions of the contract were released.

Dylan Teuns' Recent Results:

Liège-Bastogne-Liège - 17th
La Flèche Wallonne - 30th
Amstel Gold Race - 18th
De Brabantse Pijl - 28th
Volta Limburg Classic - 10th

Tour de Romandie team reports

This came from Tinkoff:

After a day in cold and wet conditions, all of Tinkoff’s riders came home safe in the opening prologue of the 70th edition of the Tour de Romandie. Over a fast and urban course, punctuated by a small third category climb in the middle, Robert Kiserlovski was the first Tinkoff rider to finish, ending the day in 58th position, and team leader Rafal Majka in 68th position, a second slower.

Robert Kiserlovski

Robert Kiserlovski in 2015

The opening day’s prologue course was fast and technical. The route, which was only 3.95km, resembled a criterium course more than a time trial, and speeds in the opening and closing sections and the furious riding that took place, supported this.

After a series of testing bends at the start of the route, having to negotiate road furniture, manhole covers, kerbs and a damp road surface, riders faced the third category climb of the Rue de la Montagne. While only a short climb, it sufficiently broke up the course to the point that specialist time trial riders were not dominant on the stage. Many riders elected to use road bikes, as opposed to time trial bikes, owing to the climb and the technical nature of the course, where full control was required and there were few opportunities to stay in an aero position.

The weather was perhaps the biggest concern for the team, owing to the cold and damp conditions, as Sport Director, Patxi Vila explained. “At the beginning the forecast said that the first half of the riders should be better so we got Manuele Boaro out early to set a good time, but the weather turned and we were unlucky there and couldn't do much.”

As the day went on, the weather came in, meaning Rafal Majka, who was the last of the team to go out, completed his ride with snow in the sky, crossing the finish line in 68th position. Vila was happy with Rafal’s performance, given how difficult it would be to make an impact on such a short course. “We put Rafal as last guy to be with the other GC contenders. In the middle of the day the stage dried and those guys got lucky, and then it got wet again for the guys at the end so he couldn't go all out, but he stayed upright which was the most important. Compared to the other contenders his time was OK and he is there or thereabouts where he should be. It's a prologue, and of course we want to win every day we can, but today it was very tough for us in the conditions.”

After a crash in the difficult weather conditions at Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, there were concerns over Rafal’s condition coming to Romandie, but Vila was clear that the Tinkoff leader had suffered no ill effects. “Rafal was feeling good today. He didn't have any pain or problems from his crash on Sunday and so that looks good for the coming week.”

Stage 1 marks the beginning of the race proper. Riders will cover a 169km route that takes in four categorised climbs, that is expected to end in a sprint owing to the descent shortly before the finish. Now that a race leader had been selected, there wouldn't be much responsibility for Tinkoff to control the race, as Vila explained. “Tomorrow will be one of the easier stages and now there's a leader's team to protect the jersey. We will see if we can give Adam Blythe a chance for the sprint as well as protecting Rafal and keeping him out of trouble ahead of Stage 2.”

Lampre-Merida sent this report:

A short prologue opened the Tour de Romandie 2016.

The individual time trial took place in La Chaux de Fonds on the distance of 3500 meters, on a course which was characterized by a 1 km climb just after the start and the following descent to the arrival.

A hard opponent for the riders was the bad weather: the snow painted in white the landscape and the extreme cold made the situation even more difficult for the riders, especially for those who raced in the first part of the afternoon and in the last part, while those who started in the central moments had a small but decisive advantage.

Rui Costa, who started early, pedalled on wet roads and he had to be carefull especially in the downhill. His performance was the 33rd in the stage classification, 20" higher than the one made by the winner Ion Izagirre.
Fairly good performance by Grmay, who completed the prologue in a time that was 5" worse than Rui Costa's one.

Rui Costa

Rui Costa at the 2015 Dauphine

The 1st stage of the Tour de Romandie will start from La Chaux de Fonds and will end in Moudon, after that the riders will have covered a distance of 169 km and three Kom of 3rd category.

"We had consulted the weather forecasts, which said that there would have been bad weather conditions all the afternoon long, so together with Rui we decided that he would have started early - sports director Pedrazzini explained - Rui had to be careful because of the wet roads and he realized a failry good performance, however he's far from the higher positions of the stage classification because some riders could exploit a pause from the bad weather".

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary