Cancellara denies bike motor story, others debate the issue
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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cancellara denies bike motor story, others debate the issue

by VeloNation Press at 6:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders
UCI to tackle mechanised doping with bike scans

Fabian CancellaraWorld time trial champion Fabian Cancellara has rejected suggestions that he may have used an internal bike motor in winning the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

“It is so crazy that I don’t have words for it,” he told Het Nieuwsblad. “I don’t want to speak too much about this and dwell on a story that’s so stupid. I have never had batteries on my bike. [Besides,] that must produce noise?”

Stories have been growing in recent weeks that the UCI has been investigating the possible use of motors such in bikes. A working model made by Gruber sits inside the seat tube and provides up to 100 watts of additional power to riders; the motor itself is invisible, but it is powered by an external battery pack held in a saddle bag. It also has a visible button to turn it on and off.

Former pro rider Davide Cassani fuelled the debates when he showed a working model that had a hidden on/off button concealed in the brake hoods, and also a battery hidden near the pedals. He said that it was impossible to spot the difference when compared to a normal bike, and that the effect was notable. In fact, he said that it would enable him to win a stage in the Giro d’Italia at 50 years of age.

Others then raised questions about Cancellara’s dominant ride in the Tour of Flanders, where he rocketed away from Tom Boonen on the Kapelmuur, as well as his stunning long-range attack in Paris-Roubaix. In fact, a video analysis is available online, with those who made it arguing the point through use of TV images.

The Swiss rider said that the story is laughable. Almost. “In fact, it’s pretty funny but it is such a big story that it’s no longer the case. It’s a sad story and really outrageous. Don’t worry, my accomplishments are the result of hard work,” said Cancellara.

The UCI is taking the issue seriously, but not in relation to specific riders. Jean Wauthier, the head of the UCI’s technical commission, doesn’t see truth in the story. “No investigation will be opened on Cancellara,” he said. “Moreover, if there was a fraud, we cannot prove it.

“The risk is simply too great…for him, his team and the bike manufacturer. A champion like Cancellara would not take that risk.”

The rider’s Saxo Bank mechanic assured that there is no basis for the questions. “I guarantee you 200 percent – this is completely wrong,” said Christophe Desimelaere to Het Nieuwsblad. “Until a few weeks ago, everybody laughed so much. But I, as a mechanic, cannot laugh. Look, about doping, I can’t say anything, since people can do what they want. But with the bike, absolutely not. I am aware of everything and I guarantee you that this story is not true. It is outrageous that they dare insinuate such a thing. The people who say this are crazy.”

He said that Cancellara had genuine reasons for changing his bike in both races.

Others have debated the issue, believing that it is possible that some riders could already have profited from the technology. “Laugh? No, I have not laughed. I’m too serious to laugh,” said Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere. “ I watched this film with suspicion. Imagine if this is true – then it is pure theft. Worse than doping. Caution: everyone is innocent until proven otherwise. I don’t participate in gossip, and I try not to be paranoid. But now, I’ve seen the film by Cassani, and I hope that the UCI will examine the matter thoroughly.”

On the accusations against the Swiss rider, he takes this with a pinch of salt. “Even when he was younger, when Fabian Cancellara was with Mapei, he was a big engine, so…”

A mechanic with his Quick Step team does think it would be possible to get away with it in a race. “I think you can really use it in secret. A buzzing noise is drowned out by the cheers,” said Jean Marc Vandenberghe.

Herman Frison, Omega Pharma director, said that the issue has been talked about for quite some time. “First of all, you think it’s a scare story,” he told Sporza. “Then you start to think it is more real. Last year we had a course at the UCI and already a fellow team manager asked about the motor on the bike. The UCI person said that he was aware of it and that the UCI could detect it.”

He tends to believe the Saxo Bank rider is innocent of suspicion, though. “I do not think that Cancellara has used these bikes,” he said. “It would be the effect of a bomb [if it were proven to be true]. Cancellara is an honest rider. And I don’t think that anyone now dares to test these prototypes, after all these stories.”

Even though they play down suggestions that the Swiss champion might use such a bike, Wauthier and the UCI clearly feel that it’s possible that others may be tempted to do so. “Next week we will sit together to discuss the development of tests on the bike,” he said, then warned: “At the Tour de France, these tests will be ready.”


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