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TECH NEWS

Updated: X-ray trucks to detect motors in Classics and Grand Tours

UCI announces new measures to combat mechanical doping

The UCI, cycle sport’s world governing body, has today announced that it will use X-ray equipped trucks to check bikes for motor assistance at this year’s Grand Tours and five of the biggest one-day races, and will randomly select bikes to dismantle following stages/races.

Any bikes deemed to be suspicious will also be dismantled, and officials will continue scanning bikes with tablet devices.

UCI president David Lappartient has made targeting technological fraud a major priority. Back in December he said that it would be a “disaster for the sport” if a leading rider were caught using a concealed motor.

UCI checking Tinkoff bike for hidden motor (source Facebook video still).JPG

The UCI has previously used tablet devices to scan bikes, and thermal imaging cameras were used in the 2016 and 2017 editions of the Tour de France to try to detect any concealed motors.

Read our story from 2016, Mechanical doping: Tour de France to use thermal imaging kit to look for hidden motors.

Belgian cyclo-cross rider Femke Van den Driessche was banned from cycling for six years following the discovery of a concealed motor in a bike prepared for her at the world championships in Zolder at the end of January 2016.

We’ve reported in the past how three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond says he does not trust recent results in cycling’s biggest race because he believes riders are cheating by using concealed motors. 

The UCI appointed Jean-Christophe Péraud, runner-up to Vincenzo Nibali in the 2014 Tour de France, as its manager of equipment and the fight against technological fraud in November last year.

“As well as the Grand Tours, the races affected by the new UCI measures are the Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Lombardy,” reports Reuters.

The 2018 Milan-San Remo was raced last Saturday, Vincenzo Nibali taking the win.

There are currently very few details about the UCI's new plans, other than that  X-ray equipped trucks will feature, although the UCI has announced a news conference to be held today where measures will be outlined in more depth.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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8 comments

Avatar
Natrix | 5 years ago
1 like

Wonder what the fuel efficiency is for a lead lined truck???

Avatar
Rapha Nadal | 5 years ago
0 likes

£400,000 for an x-ray truck.  I wonder if it was bought with donations from certain teams on the WorldTour...

Avatar
DaveE128 replied to Rapha Nadal | 5 years ago
1 like
Rapha Nadal wrote:

£400,000 for an x-ray truck.  I wonder if it was bought with donations from certain teams on the WorldTour...

Unless they're mad, they'll be paying much smaller sums for a service, not buying it.

This could actually work, if done right. I'm a bit sceptical about the tablet detection as it's possible to make motors with no permanent magnets, albeit not quite as efficient as those with magnets.

Avatar
handlebarcam | 5 years ago
2 likes

When I first heard about this, I couldn't help imagining Wile E. Coyote, bursting out of the side of a truck astride a giant horseshoe magnet with "Acme Motor Detectors" stencilled on the side of it, flying through the air in pursuit of a passing TGV.

Avatar
maviczap | 5 years ago
0 likes

White elephant come to mind

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fenix | 5 years ago
1 like

This will be a roaring success simply because no pro tour team could even think of trying electric motors.

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LastBoyScout | 5 years ago
0 likes

Surely just weighing the bikes would be a good start point?

If the UCI minimum weight is 6.8kg and the lightest motor I can see online coming out at 1.8kg including battery (Vivax Assist), then (allowing for replacing any lead ballast in sub-6.8kg bikes and using a cut-down battery) any bikes approaching 8kg and over would be suspicious?

Avatar
EddyBerckx replied to LastBoyScout | 5 years ago
2 likes
LastBoyScout wrote:

Surely just weighing the bikes would be a good start point?

If the UCI minimum weight is 6.8kg and the lightest motor I can see online coming out at 1.8kg including battery (Vivax Assist), then (allowing for replacing any lead ballast in sub-6.8kg bikes and using a cut-down battery) any bikes approaching 8kg and over would be suspicious?

 

Yeah but it's likely that they would use a much lighter bespoke or non widely available  solution anyway, plus bikes can be made very light these days

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