PARIS (AFP) — A wide-reaching series of checks for hidden motors in bicycles will be employed at the 2016 Tour de France, according to a report in Sunday’s French weekly le Journal du Dimanche.
Three systems will be used for the checks: an already existing magnetic resonance method screening the start and finish lines, a motorbike mounted thermal detector, and a third system provided by the French state from military sources.
The thermal cameras, which can detect a motor in a bicycle, have been developed by the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) at the request of the French government. The high-tech CEA thermal camera was used experimentally during the French Championships in Vesoul last weekend, revealed David Lappartient, president of the French cycling federation. “These tests were conclusive. Even a stopped motor could have been detected,” said Lappartient.
The Tour gets underway next weekend at Mont Saint-Michel and runs from July 2 to 24.
The Journal de Dimanche cited evidence suggesting the use of motors had been strongly suspected at recent Tour de France and other races.
“This problem is worse than doping. The very future of cycling is hanging in the balance,” French Sports Minister Thierry Braillard told the newspaper.
“Under my orders research centers have been hard at work to establish the best way to combat this menace.”
Femke Van den Driessche was banned for six years for the first recorded case of using hidden motors in top-level racing last April. The Belgian was caught with a motor in her bike at the under-23 cyclocross world championships in January.