Mechanical Cheating Now Indisputable in the Pro Ranks
So it’s come to this: Mechanical cheating is no longer relegated to rumor and open questions about how Rider X rode away from Rider Y in Race Z.
When a motor was found in the bottom bracket area of U-23 Belgian rider Femke Van den Driessche’s bike at the Cyclocross World Championships Saturday in Belgium, mechanical cheating became an indisputable fact. If you haven’t already read one of the many stories about the incident (which of course jumped quickly from the cycling press to mainstream media), here’s one from cyclingnews.
That story and others contains some of the detail of how the motor came to be discovered, and the bluster from the UCI about having more advanced tools to ferret out so-called “mechanical doping” (a term I hereby refuse to use any longer; let’s just call it mechanical cheating, which surely seems to make more sense).
Hidden Motors are ‘Old Tech;’ Electromagnetic Wheels What’s Next
Even more interesting, though, was a separate claim in a related story: Namely, that hidden motors are already “old tech” and now commonplace in the bikes of many everyday serious riders, while electromagnetic wheels mark the new age of mechanical cheating.
According to a separate cyclingnews story, Gazzetta dello Sport ran a full-page story in Monday’s newspaper in which journalist Claudio Ghisalberti cites a source who explains how motors are fitted to bikes and says electromagnetic wheels are the “new frontier” of mechanical cheating.
“A motor hidden in the seat tube is old stuff, almost artisan. It’s been overtaken, it’s a poor man’s doping,” Ghisalberti wrote in the Gazzetta dello Sport article. “The new frontier is far more technologically advanced and ten times as expensive. It’s in the rear wheel: it costs 200,000 Euros, and there’s a waiting list of six months. The first type uses a motor to turn the cranks; the second is electromagnetic.”
Coming Soon to an Event Near You?
Ghisalberti’s anonymous source claims he’s “sold 1,200 [of the old system] in Italy in the last few years. I can only laugh when I read the Gran Fondo results, I could rewrite almost all of them,” he says.
The implication, of course, is that winners of even lower level events are regularly utilizing mechanical cheating. (Will the UCI’s counter-measures trickle down into weekend races, like doping controls have in some cases?)
As for the stated cost of 200,000 Euros ($220,500) for the electromagnetic wheels, that seems like a price only a pro might be willing to pay. But the phrase “He’s got more money than sense” comes to mind when talking about even the hidden-motor trick.
What seems clear in all of this is that mechanical cheating itself is the new frontier of cheating in cycling.
RBR Readers’ Annual Mileage Sweet Spot: Between 5,000 and 10,000
In case you missed seeing the results of our Question of the Week from a couple of weeks ago, What Is Your Highest Annual Mileage?, I thought you’d enjoy knowing where you fall in the spectrum of your fellow readers.
The complete results can be found at: https://www.roadbikerider.com/question-of-the-week.
The sweet spot, though, with 44.6% of the more than 750 votes, was Between 5,000 and 10,000 annual miles (8,000 and 16,000 km).
Another 37.8% of RBR readers have logged Up to 5,000 annual miles (8,000 km).
Here’s where (to me, at least) it starts to get interesting:
- 14% of our readers said their highest annual mileage was Between 10,000 and 15,000 miles (16,000 and 24,000 km). That’s some serious mileage.
- But a select group of your fellow readers has done some VERY serious turning of the pedals: 18 have gone 15,000 to 20,000 miles (24,000 to 32,000 km), 6 have logged 20,000 to 25,000 miles (32,000 to 40,000 km), and 4 have done more than 25,000 miles (40,000 km)!
As the Aussie’s say: Good on ya! not matter what your annual mileage. Just keep the pedals turning over.