UCI check Tour de France bikes for hidden motors and illegal kit

Commissaires test bikes for weight and electrical assistance in the Alps

The UCI have been inspecting 2013 Tour de France bikes for hidden engines as well as doing checks for minimum weight requirements and any frames not approved by the international federation.

The organisation confirmed to BikeRadar that they have been sweeping bikes for electrical assistance (Fabian Cancellara was accused of using a motor when he won Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders in 2010). Chris Froome’s Pinarello Bolide was one of the bikes checked after the mountain time trial on stage 17 to Chorges. 

Matthieu Mottet, technical co-ordinator at the UCI, said testing involves removing seatposts and inserting a small camera in the down tube. For frames with integrated seatposts, the crank is removed and the camera inserted.

At team hotels, officials have also been 3D-scanning race frames to ensure the bikes are matched the geometries of those carrying the federation’s approval sticker. The UCI said 10 daily bike checks have been carried out each day. A mechanic at Argos-Shimano, Alex Ritze, said the last time he could recall a 3D scanning procedure was during the 2012 season.

On Thursday’s stage to Alpe d’Huez, two of Alberto Contador’s (Saxo-Tinkoff Bank) bikes – he swapped to a spare before the last climb – were checked for compliance with the 6.8kg minimum weight limit.

One source told BikeRadar there was confusion at the top of Alpe d’Huez because the the UCI official charged with weighing the bikes didn’t know where the weigh station was.

“The person who had to take his bike had no clue where the bike had to be checked,” said the source. “When he [Contador] asked where he was to go, the commissaire said, ‘I don’t know.’” 

Garmin-Sharp team manager Jonathan Vaughters also questioned the effectiveness of the UCI’s surprise weight check. “Fairly odd thing that they announced 'unannounced' bike control around 30 kms to go today,” he said on social media.

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