World

Team Sky, Armstrong deny motor cheating: Report

Team Sky, which have produced four of the past five Tour de France champions, and Lance Armstrong both denied using secret motors in bicycles, a CBS television report said on Sunday.

A segment on the show "60 Minutes" examined the possibility of motorised cheating in pro cycling, with three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, admitted dope cheat ex-rider Tyler Hamilton and Hungarian designer Istvan Varjas, who makes hidden motors for bikes, saying they believe such cheating exists.

"I know the motor is still in the sport," LeMond said. "There's always a few bad apples because it's a lot of money."

Armstrong, an admitted dope cheat who was stripped of seven Tour de France titles from 1999-2005, denied to CBS through his lawyer ever using a motor.

Armstrong's winning streak began just after Varjas claims he sold his first secretly motorised bike to an anonymous buyer, promising not to make more or talk of it for 10 years.

Jean Pierre Verdy, a former French anti-doping agency testing director, told CBS some informants among riders and team managers told him that about 12 riders used motors in the 2015 Tour de France.

Varjas said he sold secretly motorised bicycles to an unknown client just before the 2015 Tour, delivering the bikes to a locked storage room.

The silent motor, which is made of military-grade metal, is powered by a lithium battery.

A secret button provides a power boost for 20 minutes.

The motor can also be activated when a rider's heart rate gets too high, by linking it remotely with the rider's heart-rate monitor, said Vargas.

He noted one motor design can be hidden inside the hub of the back wheel but would boost the normal wheel weight by about 800 grams.

In the 2015 Tour de France, peloton bikes were weighed before a time-trial stage, with CBS reporting French authorities said Team Sky were the only squad with heavier bikes, each about 800 grams more. Britain's Chris Froome, riding for Sky, won the 2013, 2015 and 2016 Tour de France crowns.

In 2015, he was also "King of the Mountains" for his times in the tough climbing stages that often prove decisive.

A Team Sky spokesman told CBS the team never used mechanical assistance, saying time-trial bikes might be heavier to allow for better aerodynamics and all Sky bikes were cleared by the International Cycling Union. - AFP

 

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