Hidden motors: Kaptheijns officially named European champion in place of Van Driessche

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It’s almost a year after the event but the rider who finished second in last year’s European cyclo-cross championships, Maud Kaptheijns, has now officially been confirmed as the winner.

The Dutchwoman’s elevation to the gold medal position comes several months after the disqualification of Belgian rider Femke Van den Driessche, who originally crossed the line 36 seconds ahead of her rival.

Van den Driessche’s triumph was on November 7 2015 in Huijbergen, the Netherlands. Two and a half months later she was plunged into controversy at the world cyclocross championships when a hidden motor was detected in the spare bike in the pit area.

She initially denied any fault but one day prior to a UCI disciplinary hearing she said she had decided not to attend.

On April 26 the UCI announced that she had been found guilty of charge of technological fraud. She was handed a six year ban plus a fine of 20,000 Swiss francs. Her results dating back to October 11 2015 were also declared void, including the European title.

On Wednesday the European Cycling Federation UEC stated that Kaptheijns was now officially the winner of that title.

Maria Alice Arzuffi (Italy) and Jana Czeczinkarova (Czech Republic) had been third and fourth and will presumably also move up a place.

Kaptheijns said that she was pleased that the matter was finally at rest, even if she has already been congratulated by many. “This has made it official. I am proud of the achievement of the European title, I consider this to be the highlight of my career so far,” she told the Dutch Cycling Union KNWU.

“This is a prize that will forever bear my name and which I can look back on later with pride.

Maud Kaptheijns in action in the 2015 European cyclocross championships in Huijbergen, the Netherlands.
Maud Kaptheijns in action in the 2015 European cyclocross championships in Huijbergen, the Netherlands.

The former cyclocross coach Johan Lammerts said that receiving the title in such a way is not ideal, given what she missed out on.

“The moment of being able to celebrate the victory in the European Championship on the race day itself is gone for Maud, we cannot bring that back. The Wilhelmus [national anthem] is not played for her there. But I think she deserves this title, given that she was really the strongest in this category last winter.

“Therefore, it is nice that after the cancellation of the results of Femke van den Driessche, Maud actually now has the title that comes to her.”

In January Kaptheijns took third in the world under 23 cyclocross championship.

No member of Van den Driessche’s entourage has thus far been penalised. However during the Tour de France UCI president Brian Cookson told CyclingTips that an investigation into the matter is ongoing and that further action was possible.

“It is still with the lawyers, and we are working with the Belgian authorities on that issue,” he said at the time. “It is not resolved yet. It is not the end of the story, I think.”

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