Following rumours that professionals are secretively using motorised bicycles, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) will meet on Monday at its headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland.
UCI President Pat McQuaid told La Gazzetta dello Sport that the UCI's experts and representatives from some bike manufacturers will discuss the plausibility that battery-powered bicycles are in use.
An article in Italian newspaper Il Giornale on May 18 brought the case to public attention. One week later, May 26, Rai television commentator and ex-professional Davide Cassani showed a motorised bicycle after Giro d'Italia stage 18. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaVcb0iTRFo)
"I tried it and I can say that if I raced with this bike I could win a stage of the Giro d'Italia, even if I am 50 years old," said Cassani. "It is impressive. I could go 50km/h without any fatigue."
Cassani helped bust Michael Rasmussen in a whereabouts case when he identified the Danish cyclist training in Italy prior to the 2007 Tour de France. McQuaid also thinks Cassani may be helpful in the UCI's investigation and he asked Cassani to join the meeting on Monday.
Since the article and Rai's television coverage, YouTube videos have appeared online that point to Fabian Cancellara's wins in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Cancellara, according to the author, makes strange finger movements prior to his attacks to engage the motor. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Nd13ARuvVE)
"The story is completely mad and stupid that I can't find the words to respond. I have never had a battery on my bike," Cancellara told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I go that strong because I work hard, there is nothing else to say."
McQuaid denied to La Gazzetta dello Sport that there is an investigation into Cancellara's wins.
"We have a materials department, which is working with Lausanne University, which is experienced in new technology. We will continue to monitor these situations as they develop," McQuaid said at a press conference during the Giro d'Italia.
"Unlike with doping, it would take a team level effort. If someone in a team starts to use a motor, it has to be done at a team-level. If that is the case, there would be serious consequences in the team."
German company Gruber Assist (http://www.gruberassist.com/) has been making the motor for some time. Its version is completely concealed in the seat tube and engaged by a button on the handlebars. La Gazzetta dello Sport said that it weighs 900g, provides 100 watts over a 60 to 90 minute period.
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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