Three anonymous riders in the Tour de France peloton are said to have informed a Swiss newspaper of disconcerting noises emanating from the rear wheels of four competing teams.
Le Temps (opens in new tab), a French-language publication from Lausanne in Switzerland, reported late on Thursday evening that a few riders had come forward to raise suspicion about the wheels and also bottles that are being handed out late in the stage.
The newspaper wrote that, according to the unidentified riders, some teams have been riding on rear wheels that produce "very strange metallic sounds".
Explaining in-depth, one rider is reported to have said: "It is a metallic noise, like a poorly adjusted chain.
“We are no longer talking about a motor in the connecting rods or an electromagnet system in the wheel rims, but about a device hidden in the hub.
“[We're talking about] power through the brakes [and] inertia is stored, like in F1. I've never heard that anywhere."
The UCI, and the Tour's organisers ASO, have been conducting tests on bikes during the race to detect any potential motor-doping, just as they have been for the past five years.
A statement from the race on the second rest day reported that up until that point, tests had been carried out on 720 bikes scanning for technological fraud and all came back negative.
Tadej Pogačar, the Tour’s leader going into the final two stages, was asked about the claim in his press conference after stage 19.
“I don’t know. We don’t hear any noise,” the Slovenian said. “We don’t use anything illegal. It’s all Campagnolo materials. I don’t know what to say.”
Le Temps also reported that there is some concern within the peloton relating to bottles that riders are apparently receiving towards the end of or after a stage.
The newspaper says that the contents of the bottles are unknown and that some riders, supposedly, are hiding to drink them.
One rider is quoted as saying that “those who did it told us that they did not know what they were drinking.”
None of the claims have been substantiated or has evidence been provided of any wrongdoing.
The news, however, is negative publicity for the sport and comes just days after Bahrain-Victorious’ hotel in Pau after stage 17 was raided by police, with prosecutors in Marseille confirming afterwards that they are conducting a doping investigation.
The team have strongly refuted any suspicion, however, and stage 19 winner Matej Mohorič insisted that he and his team “have nothing to hide.”
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