A grueling cycling race is somewhat less grueling if your bike is a motorcycle. Understanding this, some cunning cyclists may be turning the sport into Nascar on two wheels by surreptitiously giving their bikes a motorized boost.
Suspicions stem from two factors: The technology exists, and there is an ever-growing library of videos that show suspicious performances and actions by riders as well as teams.
For its report, Stade 2 positioned a thermal imaging camera along the route of the Strade Bianche, an Italian professional men’s race in March held mostly on unpaved roads and featuring many steep climbs. The rear hub of one bicycle glowed with almost the same vivid orange-yellow thermal imprint of the riders’ legs. Engineers and antidoping experts interviewed by the TV program said the pattern could be explained only by heat generated by a motor. The rider was not named by the program and could not be identified from the thermal image.
As much as I love watching the Tour de France, the sport of professional cycling is rife with cheating. Since it’s easy to catch people who dope with drugs, it seems that the next frontier is cheating with hidden motors on bikes.
If you understand French, watch the Stade 2 report. It’s impressive.