Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara starts his first race on Saturday at the Tour de Suisse after critics claimed he used a motorised bike to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
Cancellara has a good chance to reply to critics with a win since the race starts with a 7.6-kilometre time trial in Lugano. He is a three-time world champion in the discipline and took his last world title just 20 kilometres away in Mendrisio in September.
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“It is frustrating that people focus on this after the beautiful wins I had,” said Cancellara today. “Why not put the hammer down tomorrow and show the world what is really going on?”
Cancellara won the Tour de Suisse last year before going on to help Saxo Bank team-mate Andy Schleck finish second at the Tour de France. Today’s pre-race press conference was not only focused on Suisse or the Tour, but also on motorised bikes.
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) held a meeting Monday in Aigle, Switzerland, about the possibility that some professionals have used motorised bikes. The claim came about thanks to an article in Italian newspaper Il Giornale on May 18. One week later, on May 26, Rai television commentator and ex-professional Davide Cassani showed a battery-powered bike after Giro d’Italia stage 18.
The reports led to a YouTube video showing Cancellara during his race winning attacks. According to the video author, Cancellara made strange finger movements prior to his attacks to engage the motor.
“I have showed that over the last 10 years that I have an engine in my body, not in my bike,” continued Cancellara.
“I think three million people watched YouTube and those people think they can create a problem. I don’t want to go into the subject of where is the button, how I changed gears. Come on! I want to think about the good things in the sport.”
Cancellara said “no” when asked if UCI officials contacted him or met with them.
“I think the media reaction has been absurd, and I am a bit disappointed,” added Saxo Bank General Manager, Bjarne Riis. “It’s not Alice in Wonderland, it’s the real world. The journalists should think more about what they are writing.”
UCI President Pat McQuaid said this week that he talked to Davide Cassani and that the organisation is taking the threat seriously.