Motorised doping ()Motorised doping () © Copyright

Cheat like a pro

Getting screwed over by cheats just got real. Riders have moved on from the drugs. It's all about the bike now.

What’s all this about cheating then?

Mechanical doping 

You’re kidding, right?

No, it’s a thing.

What, so cyclists have moved on from juicing themselves, to doping their bikes?

Er, sort of. They’ve started putting motors in their bikes – 19-year-old Belgian rider Femke Van den Driessche was recently caught with a pimped bike at the Cyclocross world champs.

So they’re riding motorbikes?

Very good. No, it’s not that simple. They’re normal bikes, but with a motor. 

An electric bike then, like the ones people ride when they want some exercise but without putting in too much effort?

Not exactly, but closer. We’re talking about tiny motors that fit inside the frame of the bike.

What, like the motors in those Lego Technic robots?

A bit more powerful. The Vivax Assist model can add up to 150 Watts of power.

And that means…?

Well, the average cyclist produces up to 220 Watts, a pro would be more like 450 Watts. The motor can top that up.

But surely they’re easy to spot? 

Not really. They’re hidden in the seat tube.

What about the battery, that must be huge?

It fits inside a water bottle. A switch on your handlebars controls the motor and is so small it means no one will ever know you’re turbo charged. Though they may wonder why you never get out of the saddle to go uphill.

Must be expensive.

Ish. To buy one and have it fitted to your bike would cost you around £2,200.

How long has this been going on?

Only one rider has been caught to date, but the UCI has been looking for them for years because the rumours had been rife; Wiggins and Froome have both had their bikes examined in the past. Vivax reckons they sell about 1,200 motors a year… 

Blimey, whatever next?

Well, since you ask – insiders reckon electromagnetic wheels are the future of cheating… but they cost £160,000.


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