By Gregor Brown
MILAN (VN) — Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper and France’s Télévisions Stade 2 say video evidence shows riders cheating with motors at Italian races Strade Bianche and Coppi e Bartali this March.
The Italian and French media outlets collaborated to capture images from the races using a hidden thermal video camera. Published footage shows seven riders’ bicycles lit up brightly yellow and orange, five with heat coming from their seat-tubes and two with heat in their hubs.
“It happened in March, in Strade Bianche and Coppi e Bartali,” reported Corriere della Sera. “UCI controls? No, images from France Télévisions’ hidden camera.”
Since April 2010, when some accused Fabian Cancellara of using a motor in the classics, cycling’s governing body has ramped up its controls. Over the course of the last year, the UCI has used tablets to test bikes for hidden motors. This winter, Belgian junior racer Femke Van den Driessche was caught with a motor at the cyclocross world championships in Belgium.
It is unknown whether the UCI is supplementing that testing with thermal cameras like the one used for Sunday’s report.
“The UCI is using its tablet at the start area where the motors are off,” reported the Corriere della Sera. “They are using a Tesla meter. We tested it one like the UCI’s, and it is unreliable for the elusive magnetic field.”
“We have looked at thermal imaging, x-ray and ultrasonic testing but by far the most cost effective, reliable and accurate method has proved to be magnetic resonance testing using software we have created in partnership with a company of specialist developers,” the UCI said in a statement Sunday. “The scanning is done with a tablet and enables an operator to test the frame and wheels of a bike in less than a minute.