Commissaires check for hidden electric motors in the bikes of five riders after stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia, including Alberto Contador's Specialized

Additional reporting by Gregor Brown

Five riders had their bikes checked for hidden electric motors after stage 18 of the 2015 Giro d’Italia on Thursday, including that of race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

Stage winner Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin), Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r) and Kenny Elisonde (FDJ) also all had their bikes checked.

“Unannounced bike checks to clarify the absence of hidden motors were held,” read a commissaire’s statement issued after the Giro stage on Thursday evening. “We proceeded to verify the bicycle by removing the saddle, or the pedal axle to view the inside of the bottom bracket”.

Contador and Hesjedal both rode away from their general classification rivals on stage 18’s key climb of Monte Ologno, with the pair gaining over a minute on the likes of Mikel Landa, Fabio Aru (both Astana) and Leopold Konig (Sky).

Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) commissaires have been screening bikes for hidden motors in several races this season, although to date there has been no report of finding anything suspicious.

For example, 37 team bikes from Trek Factory Racing, Etixx-QuickStep, Orica-GreenEdge, Katusha and Giant-Alpecin were dismantled after the 2015 Milan-San Remo in the search for hidden motors.

>>> The Tour de France is looming – but Alberto Contador keeps attacking

Allegations and rumours of the use of electric motors in bikes used by professional riders first became well known in 2010, after Fabian Cancellara won the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix

The rumours were given added weight when former pro Davide Cassani appeared on Italian television with a motorised bike, claiming that similar machines had been used by professionals ‘since 2004’.

The subject hit the headlines again last year, when a widely-shared video on the internet purported to show Hesjedal’s bike moving on its own after crashing during the 2014 Vuelta a Espana. Hesjedal was one of those whose bike was checked at the Giro.

The subject of ‘motorised doping’ was also brought up in the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) report into professional cycling published in March, which included the line: “The Commission was told of varying efforts to cheat the technical rules, including using motors in frames. This particular issue was taken seriously, especially by top riders, and was not dismissed as being isolated.”

  • Chris Mann

    I think they should start checking for bionic thigh implants. The huge legs of these pro cyclists can carry motor, gears and a nuclear reactor to power them like a large backhoe.

  • adbirds

    Cheaters are like wife beaters . Not men.

  • PaulSMG

    There is a video in youtube that shows you how a bike falling that position will do that just with its inertia.
    But conspiracy theories are funnier (false yeah but funnier).

  • PaulSMG

    Do they know the size of a bike’s electrical battery? And it last less than 15 miles! Are they kidding?

  • Raymond Minville

    i hope that the UCI will check Froomes bike on the tour de france also his using of VENTOLINE before he makes his big effort when he’s going to climb the hill to finih like a racket…..!!!

  • Randolph Hamster

    Cefn – I thought so too but say it puts out 100w. That’s worth having for free, even for a pro. assuming a 12v motor (perhaps a bit of a leap), that’s 8.3 amps. if you only use it for 10 mins on the final climb thats 1400mAh, or to put it another way a NiMH AA battery’s worth of charge (although an AA would only put out max 2400mA, not 8300mA, instantaneously so you’d need a few). I’m not an electrical engineer and i’m wantonly mixing up input and output power there so its not at all an accurate calculation but it can’t be that far off. Any sparks please tell me if thats nonsense!

  • Cefn

    This is so laughable! I work in an electric bike shop. The size and weight of any battery that would make a significant difference to a pro rider would be huge. Its never going to be a possibility.

  • captainPerfect

    It could be suggested that the Hesjedal video has only one explanation

    Where can I buy one of these motors? Will one fit into a titanium frame, or do they need the larger carbon tubes?

  • Slapparoo

    It is good to see the officials showing some enthusiasm in their search for cheats, As we all know this years Giro d’Italia hasn’t been dominated by drug cheats. Leaving the only explanation for the performance of this years top GC contenders to be illegal mechanical modifications.