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Fabian Cancellara's lawyers demand recall of Phil Gaimon's book and apology over motor doping claims

Meanwhile, Swiss rider's mechanic at 2010 editions of Flanders and Roubaix says he'd have known about any hidden motor...

Lawyers acting for Fabian Cancellara have demanded that the publishers of US former professional cyclist Phil Gaimon’s book Draft Animals immediately stop distributing and selling it.

According to a report in Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, Cancellara’s manager Armin Meier has also called on Gaimon to issue a public apology over allegations contained in the book that he won races using a concealed motor.

Cancellara has always strenuously denied allegations he used illegal mechanical assistance, including during his 2010 Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix victories.

Last week, after passages from Gaimon’s book were widely reported upon in the media, the UCI said that it was considering opening an investigation into the issue.

> UCI may look into motor doping claims against Fabian Cancellara

A spokesman for world cycling’s governing body, which has recently appointed ex-pro Jean Christophe Péraud to head up the fight against technoclogical fraud, said: “We are not ruling out the possibility of investigating, especially if new information is made available.”

> UCI appoints Tour de France runner-up to fight motor doping

In his book, Gaimon wrote: “I dismissed it [talk of a hidden motor] until I heard his former teammates talk about certain events where Cancellara had his own mechanic, his bike was kept separate from everyone else's, and he rode away from a ‘who's who’ of dopers.

 “When you watch the footage, his accelerations don't look natural at all, like he's having trouble staying on the top of the pedals.

“That fucker probably did have a motor,” added Gaimon who, like Cancellara, retired in 2016.

Meanwhile, one of Cancellara’s former mechanics at Saxo Bank who helped look after his bikes at those 2010 editions of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, insisted in no uncertain terms that nothing untoward had gone on.

Rune Kristensen, who now works with Quick Step Floors, told the Danish newspaper Ekstrabladet: “In 2010 I was a mechanic at the two races with Cancellara’s permanent mechanic Roger Theel, and together we assembled the team’s bikes for the Spring Classics.

“If there had been an engine hidden in a bike, I would have discovered it. It would not have been possible to miss it. Fabian's bikes were handled like all the other bikes, so it's impossible that anything could have be hidden in it.”

Kristensen continued working for the team after its acquisition by Oleg Tinkov from Riis until it was dissolved at the end of 2016, including at its service course in Luxembourg.

“All bikes were kept and maintained there, or in public before races,” he continued.

“Cancellara never took his race bikes home, but handed them over to the team's mechanics.

"The only one I've ever known who took is race bikes home is Alberto Contador. Fabian's bikes were always locked in the trucks along with the other bikes after a race,” added Kristensen.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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18 comments

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Rapha Nadal | 6 years ago
1 like

I remember a time when a very well known cyclist used to sue people who said things about him in the press.  Years later it came back to bite him on the bum... 

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Woldsman replied to Rapha Nadal | 6 years ago
1 like
Rapha Nadal wrote:

I remember a time when a very well known cyclist used to sue people who said things about him in the press.  Years later it came back to bite him on the bum... 

I think it was largely the drug taking that bit him rather than the suing part. 

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Rapha Nadal replied to Woldsman | 6 years ago
1 like

Woldsman wrote:

Rapha Nadal wrote:

I remember a time when a very well known cyclist used to sue people who said things about him in the press.  Years later it came back to bite him on the bum... 

I think it was largely the drug taking that bit him rather than the suing part. 

It was also the lying and hiding behind lawyers.

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PRSboy | 6 years ago
0 likes

Easy to say stuff like that, with no proof.  He deserves to get sued.

And such a charming turn of phrase too, can't say I'll be rushing to buy his book.

I guess you'd have to watch the whole race to see how much protection Cancellara had compared to the guys he pulled away from.  Its easy to see a few seconds in isolation from a YouTube clip and draw the wrong conclusion.

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Tripod16 | 6 years ago
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I'm suspect of these allegations as cyclists aren't the type to add 'weight' to their bikes plus a motor would have to kick out some real horsepower to be of any use to a professional rider and then would, most likely, make quite a noise that others would hear it...

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asdfqwerty replied to Tripod16 | 6 years ago
0 likes
Tripod16 wrote:

I'm suspect of these allegations as cyclists aren't the type to add 'weight' to their bikes plus a motor would have to kick out some real horsepower to be of any use to a professional rider and then would, most likely, make quite a noise that others would hear it...

Races often come down to a matter of seconds after several hours. Even the weakest motor could be a game changer with those small, small margins.

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to asdfqwerty | 6 years ago
1 like
asdfqwerty wrote:
Tripod16 wrote:

I'm suspect of these allegations as cyclists aren't the type to add 'weight' to their bikes plus a motor would have to kick out some real horsepower to be of any use to a professional rider and then would, most likely, make quite a noise that others would hear it...

Races often come down to a matter of seconds after several hours. Even the weakest motor could be a game changer with those small, small margins.

A concealed motor, I believe, can add a solid 250watts to your output.... not too shabby.

However the sort of hidden battery (small) they would need to have used would have a limited range, which will negate many of the benefits of a motor of the course of a 6 hour race. You have to drag that weight and slight resistance around with you all day to use it when needed the most. 

However, there is a part of me that would support the use of these bikes. Imagine it, you have a 10mins of full gas effort that you could use at any time in a race. It could make things really interesting. 

 

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sneakerfrfeak | 6 years ago
3 likes

I can't imagine Riis letting it happen under his management, he ran a very tight ship and certainly wouldn't have tolerated the kind of cheating that Cancellara is being accused of.

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Simon E replied to sneakerfrfeak | 6 years ago
1 like
sneakerfrfeak wrote:

I can't imagine Riis letting it happen under his management, he ran a very tight ship and certainly wouldn't have tolerated the kind of cheating that Cancellara is being accused of.

Mr 60 per cent wouldn't have tolerated cheating?

Do you have first hand knowledge of that? Or is it that he could be very good at avoiding detection?

As others have said, every rider is under suspicion and it's easy to assume there must be a fire even when we can't see any smoke. To say "he rode away from a ‘who's who’ of dopers" is pushing it a bit; I can't imagine that Roger Hammond, who finished 7th in Flanders and 4th in Roubaix that year, would be too pleased about being described that way.

I like it when people break the code of silence but this looks like attention-grabbing stuff simply to boost sales.

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alansmurphy | 6 years ago
1 like

Phil the cookie will be fine, the fucker probably used a ghost writer...

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Chris | 6 years ago
1 like

Yeah, it's worded as an opinion rather than a statement of fact, like someone saying "Carlsberg is probably the best lager in the world" or "that fucker probably was jealous of Sparticus' success", or something.

Seems a bit out of order, but might make more sense in the context of the book. Shame I won't be buying it to find out.

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sunnyape replied to Chris | 6 years ago
3 likes
Chris wrote:

Yeah, it's worded as an opinion rather than a statement of fact, like someone saying "Carlsberg is probably the best lager in the world" or "that fucker probably was jealous of Sparticus' success", or something.

Defamation laws vary from country to country. Here, if you want to defend against defamation with the argument that you were expressing an opinion, you still have to prove that your opinion was based on matter that was factual or privileged.

Phil has said the source of his opinion was Fabian's teammates who told him there was a separate mechanic. If that can be proven to be untrue, IE, none of his teammates said any such thing or there was no separate mechanic, then the test of based on fact fails and the 'opinion' argument becomes untenable.

The law is careful to not permit people to basically make up a pile of BS and fob it off as just their opinion whist publishing it in a manner that causes tangible harm to another party.

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Grahamd | 6 years ago
1 like

Controversy sells. There is no putting the genie back in the bottle and the publishers know what they are doing. That the lawyers have asked for the book to be withdrawn rather than going straight to court with a libel claim would indicate that the wording in the book was very carefully drafted in order to remain safe.

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crazy-legs replied to Grahamd | 6 years ago
3 likes
Grahamd wrote:

Controversy sells. There is no putting the genie back in the bottle and the publishers know what they are doing. That the lawyers have asked for the book to be withdrawn rather than going straight to court with a libel claim would indicate that the wording in the book was very carefully drafted in order to remain safe.

Exactly this. Saying "that fucker probably did have a motor" is an opinion and it's very different to saying "he was using a motor" which is a direct accusation.

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Flying Scot | 6 years ago
1 like

Hmmmm touchy.....this story keeps coming back, though Ive actually no personal opinion.

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Leviathan replied to Flying Scot | 6 years ago
5 likes
Flying Scot wrote:

Hmmmm touchy.....this story keeps coming back, though Ive actually no personal opinion.

Well Freddy Starr and the Hamster keeps coming back.. it don't mean it is true. This is the problem with Lance and all these groping celebrities; they devalue innocence. They make it impossible for someone to protest their innocence without further suspicious. Honestly, f*** Gaimon; his accusation is so much heresay and youtube conspiracy nonsense, it was lazy writing to fill pages and get publicity. He wasn't even in the race.

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don simon fbpe replied to Leviathan | 6 years ago
2 likes
Leviathan wrote:
Flying Scot wrote:

Hmmmm touchy.....this story keeps coming back, though Ive actually no personal opinion.

Well Freddy Starr and the Hamster keeps coming back.. it don't mean it is true. This is the problem with Lance and all these groping celebrities; they devalue innocence. They make it impossible for someone to protest their innocence without further suspicious. 

Apart from public opinion, which doesn't count, it'll be up to the legal teams to battle it out and Cancellara is innocent until proven guilty. The problem I see is that these comments were allowed to pass with thumbs up from Gaimon's legal team... Either he has the proof of guilt, cleverly hid his accusation in cleverer language, or is fucked.

It'll be nice to watch this partiucular road crash as it happens.

I saw Freddy Starr once, in Birmingham, he was bloody funny live.

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Chasseur Patate replied to Leviathan | 6 years ago
4 likes
Leviathan wrote:
Flying Scot wrote:

Hmmmm touchy.....this story keeps coming back, though Ive actually no personal opinion.

Well Freddy Starr and the Hamster keeps coming back.. it don't mean it is true. This is the problem with Lance and all these groping celebrities; they devalue innocence. They make it impossible for someone to protest their innocence without further suspicious. Honestly, f*** Gaimon; his accusation is so much heresay and youtube conspiracy nonsense, it was lazy writing to fill pages and get publicity. He wasn't even in the race.

 

'Filling pages' - Cancellara , including the line in question, got barely more than a paragraph in the whole of a (very good) 320 page book. 

 

Anyway, the fucker probably did use a motor......

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