Le­Mond says Tour riders may be us­ing mo­tors to cheat

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY MARISSA PAYNE marissa.payne@wash­post.com Ex­cerpted from wash­ing­ton­post.com/ ear­lylead

Re­tired cy­clist Greg Le­Mond is used to speak­ing his mind, es­pe­cially when it comes to cheat­ing in the sport. The three­time 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 pre-race equip­ment checks by the In­ter­na­tional Cy­cling Union (UCI) are “fluff ” and “all words.”

UCI Pres­i­dent Brian Cook­son, how­ever, said his team takes all ac­cu­sa­tions of cheat­ing se­ri­ously, in­clud­ing “me­chan­i­cal dop­ing,” as it has come 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 the Agence FrancePresse af­ter Cedric Vasseur, a for­mer cy­clist-turned-an­a­lyst on French tele­vi­sion, com­mented that Tour de France leader Chris Froome’s bike looked to be “ped­al­ing it­self.”

“[ 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,” Cook­son 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.”

The mi­nus­cule 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, Imay win a Giro stage although I’m50 years old,” Cas­sani said.

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