A new doping crisis hits cycling as cyclocross competitor caught with hidden motor

Femke Van Den Dreissche
via Cycling weekly/ Femke Van Den Dreissche

Perhaps not a good idea in racing, but this would be a lot of fun in the city.

Electric bikes are wonderful things that can give you a nice boost on a long ride or steep hill. We also like the trend, seen in the Maxwell ebike, to make them light and the motors inconspicuous.

However now the inconspicuous motor is being taken to a whole new level with what is being called "motorized doping"- a competitor at the Cyclocross World Championship, Femke Van den Driessche, was caught with a motor in her bike during an inspection. The official word, as quoted by Nigel Wynn in Cycling Weekly:

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirms that pursuant to the UCI’s Regulations on technological fraud a bike has been detained for further investigation following checks at the Women’s Under 23 race of the 2016 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships.

vivax assist© Vivax Assist

Interesting turn of a phrase, "technological fraud." It's done by installing a motor in the seat tube and batteries can be hidden in the down tube or the top tube. These motors are available to the general public; it might have been something like the Vivax Assist, " The special design of the drive unit allows it to be built into any bicycle frame with the requisite seat tube internal diameter of 31.6 mm or 30.9 mm and is therefore invisible on the bicycle – except the on/off switch, which is unobtrusively located on the bar end."

Femke Van den Driessche claims that it was not her bike, and explains in Business Insider:

It wasn't my bike — it was that of a friend and was identical to mine," a tearful Van den Driessche told Sporza, AFP reported. "This friend went around the course Saturday before dropping off the bike in the truck. A mechanic, thinking it was my bike, cleaned it and prepared it for my race," she added, insisting that she was "totally unaware" it was fitted with a hidden motor.

And indeed a family friend has stepped up and said it was his bike, and that Van den Driessche knew nothing about it. Commenters on Nigel Wynn's post are dismissive and hilarious: "It's my bike! No, it's my bike! No, I'm Spartacus!"

This is the first time anyone has actually been caught with a motor, although they have been suspected for a while. Here is an earlier race with a Canadian rider that people wondered about:

When Ryder Hesjedal, then riding for Garmin-Sharp, crashed on a descent on stage seven of the 2014 Vuelta a España something strange happened. Instead of lying stationary on the road, Hesjedal’s bike spun in a circle as if it had a life of its own – the back wheel seemed to move the bike around.

Perhaps these bikes shouldn't be used in races, but I certainly like the idea of this technology. It lets a rider feel hard core but it sure would be nice to have a little help in the city at the end of a long day at work. And given how well hidden the mechanism is, nobody would ever know that you are taking it easy with an ebike. I want one.

Tags: Bikes | Biking


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