The spectre of mechanical doping has reared its head after again at the Tour de France pursuing a report citing quite a few unnamed riders professing to listen to “weird noises” in the rear wheels of a selection of team’s bikes at the race.
An posting posted by Swiss newspaper Le Temps on Thursday alleged that three separate riders at the Tour had read noises they had by no means listened to right before coming from bikes involving 4 teams at the race.
In accordance to the report, one particular rider told the newspaper in the course of the to start with week of the race that he was listening to odd new noises coming from the rear of numerous bikes. Through the race, the UCI experienced introduced that no sorts of mechanical doping experienced been detected.
“There is a strange noise. I can listen to it though driving. It comes from the rear wheels. A bizarre metallic sounds, like a badly altered chain. I’ve by no means heard that anywhere,” the rider stated.
Two times later on, the same rider noted again pointing out that the 4 teams that highlighted the noises coming from their rear wheel. “Four groups have this very little sizzle in the rear wheel,” he stated.
A different rider said that speak in the peloton is just not about a motor in the crankset or seat-tube – the most preferred rumour that has been circulated about achievable mechanical doping in the earlier ten years or so. Alternatively, he talked of an strength recovery technique equivalent to the engineering made use of in Components 1 cars and trucks.
“There is no more time communicate of a motor in the crankset or an electromagnet process in the wheel rims, but of a product hidden in the hub,” he claimed. “We are also chatting about an electricity recuperator through the brakes. The inertia is stored like in Formulation 1.”
A 3rd rider, not quoted in the short article, is also noted to have lifted fears about the situation. Just one of the riders pointed out the relative energy of the four teams in question, with 13 of the 19 stages so much possessing been shared among the them.
“Who will dare to talk out? We are not doing just about anything, and the scenario is critical,” just one of the riders said. “Commonly, we have a staff that dominates. Or a workforce that is weaker than the other individuals. That’s sport… This calendar year, four teams are considerably earlier mentioned the relaxation. The smallest rider who indicators with them becomes very potent. If he improvements workforce, he will become typical once more. How can you describe that?”
Pursuing Friday’s stage 18, race leader Tadej Pogačar, who rides for UAE Group Emirates, denied that his bicycle was in any way illegal.
“I you should not know. We really don’t listen to any noise,” Pogačar reported in the article-stage press convention. “We will not use anything at all unlawful. It is all Campagnolo products, Bora. I really don’t know what to say.”
On Monday’s rest day, the UCI introduced technological tests figures for the initially 15 stages of the Tour, with nothing suspicious discovered soon after 720 checks had been carried out, including screening with magnetic scanning tablets and X-ray technological know-how.
“A full of 720 exams have been conducted ahead of and just after each individual stage. All assessments have occur back detrimental,” examine the UCI assertion.
“Of the assessments carried out, 606 have been performed on bikes ahead of the begin of each and every phase applying magnetic scanning tablets. In the meantime, X-ray technologies was made use of to examination an additional 114 bikes at the finish of each and every stage.
“The UCI underlines that the put up-phase testing pool always consists of the bike ridden by the winner of that day’s phase as perfectly as the leader of the general classification. The remainder of the write-up-stage screening pool is decided on a two-pronged technique: bikes picked by the UCI based mostly on its information and facts and intelligence, and bikes ridden by athletes selected for specific anti-doping controls by the Intercontinental Screening Company (ITA), the unbiased human body in demand of the UCI’s anti-doping actions.”
The statement continued with an announcement that a new sort of tests will debut at the forthcoming Tokyo Olympic Video games, with mobile know-how ready to scan bikes on the move, fairly than just just before or right after races.
“Right after the introduction of magnetic tablets in 2016 and cellular X-ray technological know-how in 2018, a new backscatter engineering will be made use of to take a look at bikes at the Tokyo Olympic Games. This reasonably compact and light hand-held gadget provides prompt photographs of the interior of the bicycle that can be shared in actual-time to anywhere in the globe via a protected platform. It will be employed in Tokyo at the street, mountain bike and observe biking events.”
So significantly, only a person rider has at any time been caught and banned for mechanical doping. Cyclo-cross rider Femke Van den Driessche was banned for six many years in 2016 immediately after a motor was identified in a bike with her pit crew at the Cyclo-cross Earth Championships that yr.
In 2020, the French Nationwide Economic Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) ended a multi-12 months investigation into mechanical doping at the sport’s best degree before this 12 months without the need of getting any further proof of the apply.
A tech writer’s analysis
Cyclingnews tech writer Josh Croxton provides his feelings on the allegations:
Possessing not read the sounds that these nameless riders are boasting to have read, it is difficult to say what it can be most likely to be.
With that said, chains interacting with cassettes and derailleurs all make a noise, some are louder than others, and each and every setup will most likely have a different pitch to the sounds.
All 4 of the outlined groups use groupsets that have been all-around for many years previously. 3 of the teams use Shimano Dura-Ace R9170, whilst the fourth staff use Campagnolo SuperRecord EPS 12-pace, and they all use stock factors – there are no aftermarket pulley wheel systems attached to derailleurs.
They have all likely swapped out the stock bearings for oiled ceramic bearings, but even so, the noise of the chain interacting with the pulleys and the cassette shouldn’t be anything at all that riders have not listened to before.
A single point that has transformed in the latest periods is the use of waxed chains. It really is not a new technological innovation by any implies – surely not new to the 2021 Tour de France – and it is impossible to know for absolutely sure which teams are utilizing waxed chains as an alternative of a usual oil-based mostly lubricant, but with the assure of a additional productive drivetrain, it’s doable that additional teams have made the change.
Just one of the named groups, for example, are sponsored by CeramicSpeed and are operating the brand’s pre-handled UFO race chains. Having said that, for any groups managing chains by themselves, these chains require time to ‘break in’, considering that the wax dries and hardens. Throughout that original 10 kilometres or so, chains are substantially noisier than typical.
That aside, regrettably, there is no prevalent denominator among the factors utilised by the four mentioned teams. A person group have utilised Eyesight wheels, a different workforce has utilized the two Vision and Shimano, even though a person are on Roval and the fourth workforce use Campagnolo wheels.
Eventually, even though these claims are really intriguing, you w
ill find really tiny to substantiate them at this stage.