A Belgian man has claimed to be the owner of the cyclocross bike equipped with a hidden motor that was discovered at the UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Belgium on Saturday.
The bike was in the pits for 19-year-old Belgian rider Femke Van den Driessche during the under-23 women’s race. An inspection by UCI officials found that it contained a hidden electric motor – the first time that such a find has been made by the UCI.
Belgian paper Het Nieuwsblad reported on Monday evening that former professional Nico Van Muylder, 39, has claimed that he is as the owner of the bike, supporting the explanation given by Van den Driessche that it was not her machine and that she knew nothing about the hidden motor.
Van Muylder is a friend of the Van den Driessche family. According to Van den Driessche’s explanation, Van Muylder’s bike was mistakenly picked up by her mechanics and given to the rider for use during the race.
According to the UCI’s strict rules on ‘technical fraud’ it does not matter who the owner of the bike is. It is the responsibility of the rider and their team to ensure that any bike used adheres to regulations.
The UCI’s investigation into the incident is on-going, but Van den Driessche could face a fine of 20,000 to 200,000 Swiss francs (£13,700 to £137,000) and a minimum six-month suspension.