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Tour de France

UCI expands controls for mechanical doping ahead of Tour de France

UCI officials will scan and test bikes before and after each stage during the Tour using improved technology.

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COPENHAGEN (VN) — The UCI is widening its net to check for “mechanical doping” during the Tour de France.

The cycling governing body revealed its testing strategy for technological fraud during the 2022 Tour, which starts Friday with an individual time trial.

UCI officials will scan and test bikes before and after each stage during the Tour using improved technology in the hunt for illicit motors or other mechanized assistance.

“The UCI continues to take the possibility of technological fraud extremely seriously,” said ex-pro Michael Rogers, UCI’s head of road and innovation.

“Our range of tools to fight against any form of such cheating enables us to carry out checks that are rapid and effective. This is essential to be sure that cycling competitions are fair and to protect the integrity of the sport and its athletes.”

The specter of illicit motors or other mechanized assistance in bikes during the Tour continues to provoke doubts among some fans and media.

Though there’s never been a major case of mechanical doping inside the peloton during the Tour, the UCI remains committed to testing and controlling bikes throughout the race.

The UCI vows to test hundreds of bikes during the 2022 Tour de France for ‘motor doping.’ (Photo: UCI)

At last year’s Tour, 1,008 bike checks were carried out, and no cases of technological fraud were detected, the UCI said.

On Wednesday, the UCI confirmed that its testing and control team will use three different tools to try to detect cheaters.

Staffers will use magnetic tablets, a mobile X-Ray cabinet as well as portable devices using backscatter and transmission technologies.

Before each of the 21 stages, a UCI technical commissaire will be at the team buses to check all bikes being ridden at the start of that day’s stage.

These pre-stage checks will be carried out using magnetic tablets. The software of these tablets that were first introduced by the UCI in 2016 has recently been upgraded, officials said.

After each stage, checks will be carried out on bikes by the stage winner, the leaders of each category, as well as three or four randomly selected bikes.

The UCI said it will also have its radar on for “riders who give rise to suspicion, for example following the pre-stage scan, an abnormally high number of bike changes (in which case the bikes on the team car can also be checked) or other incidents picked up by the UCI Video Commissaire.”

Post-stage checks will be carried out using either mobile X-Ray technology introduced by the UCI in 2018, or the UCI’s most recent addition in 2021 to its testing arsenal that uses backscatter and transmission technologies.

Bikes undergoing post-stage checks will be tagged as soon as the rider crosses the line, and the control will take place within minutes.

If necessary, the bike in question can be dismantled by UCI officials.

The 2020 Tour saw Jumbo-Visma sport director Merijn Zeeman kicked out of the race after he became angry when UCI officials insisted on dismantling Primož Roglič’s bike at the top of a mountain stage in the French Alps. No fraud was discovered.

Tests are conducted across the UCI calendar, including all men’s and women’s WorldTour events as well as UCI road world championships as well as other major international events in road, mountain bike, track, and cyclocross events.