Five-year ban for 43-year-old French amateur caught with a motor in his bike

Third cat rider's rapid improvement sparked suspicion among officials

Cyril Fontaine, the 43-year-old French amateur who was caught racing with a motorised bike in October, has been handed a five-year ban by the French Cycling Federation (FFC).

Fontaine was caught as a result of an operation carried out jointly by judicial officials in the city of Périgueux, the FFC and the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) at a third-category race that took place in St-Michel-de-Double, but not before attempting to escape the race by car and having to be chased down by anti-doping official and former pro Christophe Bassons.

According to French newspaper Le Figaro, the disciplinary commission of the FFC met in late December to consider Fontaine's case, informing him in mid-January that he would be banned from competition from five years.

Watch: What's it like to ride a motorised bike?

Suspicions were raised about Fontaine's performances in summer last year after he began racing on a new bike, putting in strong performances that saw him climb with first-category riders at a race near Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil in the Dordogne region of south-west France.

Officials were then tipped off, arriving at Fontaine's next race in St-Michel-de-Double to observe his performance and examine his bike. However upon seeing the officials Fontaine abandoned the race before attempting to drive off with his bike in his car, being successfully pursued by Bassons.

Fontaine's case is the second example of a rider being banned for what is officially known as "technological fraud" after Belgian rider Femke Van den Driessche was caught with a motor in her spare bike at the Cyclocross World Championships in 2016. Van den Driessche was banned for six years by the UCI, but by that point had already announced her retirement from the sport aged 19.

Fontaine is not the only amateur to be caught using a hidden motor in a race, with a 53-year-old Italian amateur also being caught last summer, reportedly refusing to let officials check his bike after a race as he "had a wedding to go to".

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.