Cycling's governing body must solve the problem of motorised doping before ASO starts talks to put its races, including the Tour de France, back into the WorldTour


Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme wants the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) to solve the problem of motorised cheating before making plans to put ASO’s races back in the WorldTour series for 2017.

Tour organiser ASO said in December it would pull all seven of its races from the UCI’s WorldTour calendar – including the Tour, Paris-Roubaix and the Vuelta a España – and let them be classified as HC for 2017. Since then, top brass from the ASO and the UCI have not talked and they show no sign of dealing with the matter any time soon.

“Motor controls are more pressing,” Prudhomme told journalists including Cycling Weekly at the Tour of Qatar today.

“If that problem is not sorted, then what is the point of talking about anything else? That’s the priority, to have systematic checks on motors.”

>>> ASO pulls Tour de France and other races from the UCI WorldTour

After years of controls, the UCI found its first motor in the women’s under-23 Cyclo-cross World Championship on January 30. With a tablet that reportedly sensed motors with electromagnetic frequencies, it caught 19-year-old Femke Van den Driessche.

The UCI as governing body should continue to carry out controls as it does with anti-doping, but the ASO is concerned enough now that it is scrapping any thought of saving cycling’s top series.

UCI president Brian Cookson answers questions at a press conference in Zolder, Belgium, on Sunday morning after a bike was found to have a concealed electric motor at the Cyclocross World Championships

UCI president Brian Cookson answers questions at a press conference in Zolder, Belgium, on Sunday morning after a bike was found to have a concealed electric motor at the Cyclocross World Championships

In December, the French organiser said it did not agree with the UCI’s planned 2017 reforms that allow team’s three-year licences and give more space for new races to join the top WorldTour series. ASO called it “a closed sport system” and said it wants a European model that is an “open system giving first priority to the sporting criterion.”

If ASO keeps its seven races out then it would seriously devalue the WorldTour series, which now counts 27 races including classics like the Tour of Flanders and the Giro d’Italia stage race.

>>> Watch: this is how the UCI checks for motors in bikes

“Are we going to negotiate? I don’t know,” Prudhomme said. “What I want is that we insist on having methodical controls for motors. [UCI President] Brian Cookson wants that, and that’s a good thing. That’s the main issue facing us now.

“Only 15 days ago I wouldn’t have talked about such checks, but things have radically changed with the motor that was found. This has become our priority and cycling has to understand that. We have to get rid of the cheating and the suspicion before talking about any other subject. We have to sort this problem out.”

Watch: Men’s WorldTour contenders for 2016

Prudhomme arrived in Qatar hours after Cookson visited for stage two on the 2016 Doha World Championships course. A previous opportunity to meet with Cookson was missed after he cancelled his flight for the Tour Down Under in Australia at the last minute. “Of course,” Prudhomme said, “I’m not doing it on purpose.”

On Tuesday, Cookson said that he wanted to sort out the issue with ASO so that they would continue to have their races in the WorldTour. “Our door is open,” said Cookson. “I’m ready to talk with anyone at ASO, from Madame Amaury downwards.”

  • J1

    Man, ASO bore me.

  • Andrew Bairsto

    Does not take very much to wrong foot the UCI they remind me of a sheep in sheep’s clothing.Have you seen the amateur way they detect motors what a joke any electrical engineer worth his salt must be having a laugh.

  • wheelchaser

    I find this guy more than a little annoying. I’d love to see the UCI find a way to leave this this guy holding the bag with his precious tour and no riders except club teams.

  • Altimis Nuel

    Very smart move, ASO! get rid those cheater!

  • Jwiffle

    Seems to me that aso should shoulder responsibility for making sure their events are clean. They should contribute to anti doping efforts and check bikes themselves. If they pull out, why should uci bother checking bikes used in the race?

  • Chris

    It’s a red herring! Prudhomme doesn’t care about motors. He is just being mischievous and just trying to wrong foot UCI.

  • Adam Beevers

    OK prudhomme. Pull out of the world tour and develop your own motor testing? Or are you simply going to let the teams do what they want?