Fabian Cancellara’s long and illustrious professional cycling career concluded at the end of 2016 but the four-time world time trial champion, and three time Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix winner is facing an investigation into motor allegations that date back to 2010. That year, the Swiss rider won both cobbled Monuments with devastating attacks.
The renewed scrutiny arises from accusations made by former professional rider Phil Gaimon. The American who is an outspoken critic of dopers continues to make headlines with his Worst Retirement Ever series in which his efforts to take Strava KOMs on notable climbs around North America and the world are recorded.
Revisiting the motor accusations leveled against Cancellara in his third book, Draft Animals: Living the Pro Cycling Dream (Once in a While) Gaimon writes, “When you watch the footage, his accelerations don’t look natural at all, like he’s having trouble staying on the top of the pedals. That fucker probably did have a motor.”
— Phil Gaimon (@philgaimon) November 8, 2017
In response to the accusations, new UCI president David Lappartient said that a new investigation into the allegations would be launched. The Frenchman ran on a platform which included upping checks and taking motor cheating more seriously than his predecessor Brian Cookson who he defeated in a landslide.
“What I would say regarding the case you are speaking about is that I will try to have more information and we will investigate. We will investigate because we need to know exactly what is behind this. Of course, I heard all the rumours, like everybody, and I just want to know exactly. So we will investigate, that is our job,” Lappartient told Cyclingnews.
Despite revisiting the accusations, Gaimon maintained that his point was being missed. “I do think it happened that year a couple times, but as soon as somebody noticed and it became a story nobody did it again. I think it’s an absolute clickbait, red herring – even up to the new UCI president who is acting like it’s a big issue that he is going to get to the bottom of. Anyone on the inside knows it’s a joke,” Gaimon said to Cyclingnews.
Only one rider has been caught using a motor at a UCI sanctioned event. In 2016, Femke Van den Driessche was found to have a motor in her bike at the cyclocross world championships. She received a six-year ban for the infraction. While the UCI has been doing thousands of checks on competitors bikes, only a couple of others have been caught wit motors including a masters rider in Italy and an amateur French racer.
Lappartient is taking the issue very seriously recently appointing former professional Jean-Christophe Péraud to the position of UCI technical director replacing the controversial outgoing director Mark Barfield who allegedly stifled investigations into hidden motors at the 2016 Tour de France.