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July 15, 2019
Two riders at an Italian amateur race have fled the scene after refusing to have their bikes checked for hidden motors.
According a report in Gazzetta dello Sport, organisers of the Criterium Portogruarese in the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy were asked by several riders to check the bikes of two competitors in the event. One of those competitors, Alessandro Fantin, had finished eighth in the race.
“The riders were angry because Fantin and another were kept an eye on for a long time because they were accused of using a rigged bike,” said Lorenzo De Luca, president of the race organisation. “At the end of the race we stopped the two and asked to check their bikes. They refused.”
Race organisers called the police “so that the checks could be carried out by competent authorities.” Rather than waiting around, the two riders fled.
“These two jumped quickly in the van and, although the other cyclists had done everything to keep them, so as not to let them go, they fled just before the arrival of the [police],” De Luca said. “It’s a shame, but we, as organizers, couldn’t do more than that, even if you could see that there was a button on the handlebar.
“I’m sorry, but the only thing we could do is take them off the finishing line.”
It wouldn’t be the first time riders have used hidden motors in a bike. The first to be caught was then-19-year-old Belgian Femke van den Driessche who, at the 2016 Cyclocross World Championships, was found to have a motor in her bike. In July 2017, 53-year-old amateur racer Alessandro Andreoli was nabbed at a race in Bedizzole, in northern Italy.
As reported on CyclingTips in 2015, hidden motors have long existed for road bikes, offering considerable benefits for those who use them. In the years since van den Driessche was caught (and handed a six-year ban) the UCI has frequently checked for hidden motors in competition. The governing body claims to have tested 1,300 bikes during this year’s Giro d’Italia, returning no positive tests in the process.