An investigation by French television's Stade 2 and Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera claim that seven riders were using motors at the Italian races

A joint investigation between French television’s Stade 2 and Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera claims that some riders are using motors within their bikes in top professional races.

The investigation, which will be shown in full on French TV on Sunday night, says that a heat sensor set-up to look like a video camera at the 2016 Strade Bianche one-day race and the Coppi e Bartali stage race were able to show seven different motors in use.

>>> Everything you need to know about the motorised doping scandal

Five of those motors were alleged to be within in the seat tube, while the remained were in the hub of the rear wheel, with orange heat-spots alleged to demonstrate where the motors are.

The report claims that the heat generated by the bikes could only have been created by motors, having consulted experts with their images from the races. The UCI currently uses a tablet technology, which reportedly detects magnetic fields, while it is unknown whether it uses heat sensors to check for motors.

Investigators Thierry Vildary and Marco Bonarrigo also looked at more advanced types of mechanical doping, and spoke to Hungarian Istvan Varjas, who is alleged to be the engineer and supplier of motors to riders.

>>> Are electromagnetic wheels the leading form of ‘mechanical doping’?

Varjas claimed that wheels with Neodynium magnetic plates hidden within the deep-section rims was the most advanced and undetectable by UCI controls.

A magnet driven by a battery under the seat then generates an extra 60 watts of power, often the difference between two riders on a hard climb. The wheels can be activated and adjusted by bluetooth devices the report says, and can only be spotted by a high-powered magentic field detector. That technology costs €50,000, said Varjas, and is available to very few athletes.

It’s not the first time that the rumour of electromagnetic wheels has emerged, with a report in Gazzetta dello Sport in February claiming it had spoken to a ‘Mr X’, about the prevalence of the technology.

Varjas also explained to the journalists in the latest report that small motors, only around 5cm wide, can be placed in the bottom bracket or rear hub and cassette for respective front wheel and rear wheel assistance, with adjustable power of up to 250 watts. The report claims that “they are perfect for athletes with high cadence.”

The only confirmed case of mechanical cheating has so far come at the World Cyclo-Cross Championships in January this year, when junior female rider Femke Van den Driessche was caught with one in her spare bike.

The Stade 2 report is set to be shown in full at 5-25pm CET on Sunday evening.

  • Eric

    Speak for yourself, “Giovanni”. Italy was the very origin of the EPO doping era, in the 1990’s. Have you nothing to say about Operacion Puerto?

    If the USADA had been stonewalled by the USCF/USA Cycling, just as the various National sporting authorities of Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Holland and the Netherlands did; then, where would the evidence to catch Armstrong, have come from?

    What about Pantani? He, who’s hematocrit was 52? Oh, but his was just “naturally high”? And he trained in this very epicenter of Euro doping.

    Or maybe, you could spare a word for the Italian Gewiss-Ballan team that introduced EPO to the rest of the Euro pro peleton, back in 1993?

    YOU Euros are the ones who constructed the ‘doping omerta’. For you all, to now scapegoat johnny-come-lately Americans, is rich – and enormously hypocritical.

  • Eric

    This comment shows some actual awareness of bicycle racing and its considerations.

  • Eric

    Local amateur racing. Sometimes. However, I myself have had opportunities for promotion in Category, ruined by dopers in the amateurs.

  • LaszloZoltan

    if you are going to insist on being so negative about the sport, then you might as well just give up and move on then. it is a sport, a game, nothing more. the winners are sportsmen, not saints.
    just enjoy the show

  • SonOfaGun

    If they are British they should be banned for life for bringing the sport and the nation into disrepute.

  • GL333

    I think you already know the answer to your question. And it’d be an resounding No.

  • After Armstrong scandal with blood transfusion, nothing can surprise me in pro cycling these days…Well, maybe hidden small jet engines in their butts, running on bowel gasses. Jokes aside, if UCI would take this a bit serious, they should investigate all passed cases. If they prove so called “mechanical doping” usage as this video suggest, should give life ban to all teams and riders who were involved…and clean among their own ranks in organization from corruption. Pro cycling is already suffered enough trough recent years and because of some few nutcrackers, it will always bring more attention as scandalous, cheating and corrupted sport to the general public.

  • Michael

    Indeed, the subtext was loud and clear there.

    If the French put this desperation to have a rider win the TdF into a team rather than trying to discredit the British then they might actually have a chance of winning it again.

  • Angelo Nolè

    top riders do not risk to cross the line and win with a motor, at least they use it in the first part of the rece to save the legs for the final push

  • TrevorHoldsworth

    Yep, high cadence schmadence, tell them to look at who has been changing bikes in the last hour of races/stages over the past ten years (… and throw the cups of p over them!). And also save a cup for Laurent Jalabert while you’re at it. Anyone who changes bikes for no apparent reason deserves a hard full-on attack off the front of the bunch. I don’t think anyone will lug around a battery and motor for a 6 hour race when the motor will only be used in the last hour.

  • TrevorHoldsworth

    You’ll have to google stade 2 and filter by ‘last day’. the report starts at 39 minutes. They showed the video to Cookson. They also mentioned a rider and his final position to Cookson without his name being aired, The video alone is not enough to sanction, but is the way to go. The UCI will need one or two thermal cameramen in the peloton (more motorbikes) and impose a bike change on suspect bikes, then dismantle those bikes.

  • The Awakening

    Liz Miller

    RE: “I missed the programme”

    The Cycling article states;

    “The investigation, which will be shown in full on French TV on Sunday night…”

    As it is an investigative TV programme, the importance is to get the message out on what is going on and to do it in a way, that nobody in the sport could be tipped off and so hide the evidence…

  • Sutton Atkins

    Between doping, mechanical-doping, and bribery/cover-ups, it makes you wonder if ANY race has EVER been won clean. (I mean 100% clean… like… honestly clean.)

  • Howmanyjackos

    Those french do not like high cadence riders as they choose to throw cups of p ss at them …would love to see the docu.though and the unfoling uci /pro team bribary , betting scandal ….

  • Gary Simpson

    I believe everything cycling weekly report – what a bloody scandal

  • Liz Miller

    I missed the programme. Did they name the Teams? If not, why not? And why did they not speak to UCI at the races on on the day so that they could also check them?

  • Chris Williams

    Hmmmmm. We have been here before FC