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"Motor or just skidding?" Mechanical doping suspicions raised against World Cyclo-cross Champ Wout Van Aert

Spanish sports website AS.com has doubts - but Belgian press says "no hard evidence"...

Spanish sports daily AS has asked, for the second time inside a month, whether world cyclo-cross champion Wout Van Aert is using an illegal hidden motor in his bike.

The question was prompted after an incident during yesterday’s Karawarencross in Lille, Belgiun when Van Aert’s rear wheel slipped sideways behind him.

The Belgian managed to save himself from going down, while Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel likewise managed to remain upright and avoid hitting the barriers, and would go on to secure victory.

- Mechanical doping: All you need to know about concealed motors

But AS suggests that as Van Aert stops pedalling, his rear wheel seems to spin around faster than it should.

“Van Aert’s bicycle is again raising doubts about this strange rear wheel movement,” said AS. “Motor or simple skidding?”

The Spanish newspaper made similar claims against the world champion following a round of the World Cup in Fiuggi, Italy last month, when again the rear wheel of his bike seemed to spin around of its own accord.

At the time, Van Aert was running with his bike on an off-camber section – with Cyclocross.com’s explanation of that incident being that his pedal seemed to get caught on some mud, causing the wheel to spin.

Yesterday’s incident is referenced in this report on the website of CX Magazine, but purely from a racing perspective and with no suggestion that there is anything suspicious about Van Aert’s bike.

Belgian newspaper Het Niewusblad said there was “no hard evidence” to back up AS’s latest claims.

It’s just over a year now since, after several years of rumours, a hidden motor was found in competition for the first time in a bike prepared for the Belgian Under-23 rider Femke Van Den Driessche at the world championships.

While rumours persist of the use of concealed motors in cycling, that remains the one and only time one has actually been found.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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