ANDORRA (AFP) — Chris Froome’s team manager said on Monday it would be “stupid” to try to use a motorized bike in the Tour de France, adding that the reigning champion and current race leader is being tested more than anyone else.
Froome came under intense scrutiny last year after a scintillating attack on the first mountain stage of the Tour gave him a decisive advantage over his rivals.
He went on to claim his second title in three years.
The debate around the use of tiny electronic motors in bikes raged since, and authorities are now using a thermal camera and magnetic resonance testing to check for motors.
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Sky manager Dave Brailsford said the testing should close the debate, as it would be foolhardy to even try to cheat in such a way.
“To find an engine in a bike is a pretty simple thing to do in this day and age,” Brailsford said on Monday’s Tour rest day in Andorra.
“The technology that you [journalists] have got to beam these pictures up to a satellite and back is way more complex and difficult — that you use on a day-to-day basis — than finding a motor in a bike. It’s not a difficult task.
“You just need the right technology to find it — you’ve either got an engine in your bike or you haven’t.”
Brailsford insisted Froome’s equipment had come in for more scrutiny than anyone else’s on the Tour.
“His bike’s been tested more than anyone else’s, we’re getting tested every day.
“We actually got an email from the UCI the other day saying thank you for being the most co-operative team out of everybody in the bike checks and all the mechanical checking.
“So if someone was stupid enough to have the idea of coming here with a bike [motor], for sure they’d get caught.”
He added: “The whole discussion about bikes and motors, given the level of testing, is something that we need to reconsider.”
Froome has not managed to stamp his authority on the Tour this year as he did in his previous two successful yellow jersey tilts.
Although he is the race leader, he has only a 16-second gap on young British countryman Adam Yates of Orica – BikeExchange.
“It’s going to be a tight race. It’s what I thought before and I’ve seen nothing yet to change my opinion,” added Brailsford.
Behind the 23-year-old Yates is Ireland’s Dan Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step) at 19 seconds back.
Martin’s previous best Tour performance was 33rd in 2013, although a year later the British-born 29-year-old finished seventh in the Vuelta a Espana.
Yates, whose twin brother Simon is also a professional cyclist, was 50th at the Tour last year.
Only nine of the 21 Tour stages have been completed, but Froome believes both rivals are capable of maintaining a push for the yellow jersey.
“I think they already have shown themselves as contenders. If they can do what they’ve done in the first half again, then they will be on the podium come Paris,” the 31-year-old Froome said.
“There’s no reason they shouldn’t be up there, but three weeks is a long time. It is different between riding a week-long race and a grand tour.
“But so far they’ve shown no weaknesses in that respect.”