Tour de France will use special scanners to detect hidden, illegal motors

The pack of riders cycles past Sisters of the Cosolation congregation during the 228.5 km fifth stage of the centenary Tour de France cycling race from Cagnes-Sur-Mer to Marseille July 3, 2013.

REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

The Tour de France has long dealt with the shadow of doping scandals. Now, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has set its sights on weeding out a different kind of illegal cycling enhancement -- hidden motors that could make cyclists go faster.

On Monday, the UCI said it will employ a new scanning method to detect these secret motors, conducting between 3,000 and 4,000 tests over a two-week period.

So, what is this technology? In January, the UCI first implemented its new scanning system that uses a tablet, a case, an adapter, and custom-made software to evaluate all the components of a bike -- from the wheels to the frame -- in less than one minute. This process was put in place after a motor was found in the Belgian rider Femke Van den Driessche's bike back in 2015. She was handed a six-year cycling ban for "mechanical doping."

"Since the beginning of the year, we are sending a clear message which is that there is literally nowhere to hide for anyone foolish enough to attempt to cheat in this way," UCI President Brian Cookson said in a press release. "A modified bike is extremely easy to detect with our scanners and we will continue to deploy them extensively throughout the Tour and the rest of the season."

The three-week race gets underway Saturday, July 2.

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