Mechanical doping suspicions raised over Roglic’s bike switch in Giro

The French TV programme Stade 2, which has claimed that hidden motors are being used in the professional peloton, has raised suspicions about a bike change made by LottoNL-Jumbo’s Primoz Roglic shortly before he started – and won – the Stage 9 individual time trial at last month’s Giro d’Italia.

Roglic was a surprise second to Giant-Alpecin’s Tom Dumoulin at the 9.8km Stage 1 time trial in Apeldoorn that opened the race, and a week later won the longer, 40.5km Stage 9 in Tuscany’s Chianti Classico wine-growing area.

Hidden motors have been one of the hottest topics in professional cycling since one was found concealed in the bike of Belgian under-23 rider Femke Van Den Driessche at the cyclo-cross world championships in January.

According to the France Televisions sports magazine show’s latest report, among the suspicious images was one of those was of a bike ridden by Roglic in Strade Bianche.

The initial Stade 2 investigation was carried out in partnership with Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera and one of the Milan-based daily’s journalists, Marco Bonarrigo, appeared in last night’s report. He said he had been present at the start of the Stage 9 time trial at the Giro d’Italia when a UCI official ruled just two minutes before he set off that the bike Roglic intended to use did not comply with regulations.

According to a post on Roglic’s website on the evening of the stage, the commissaire had told him his bike was “too long” – although as Bonarrigo notes in his own report, it seems “incredible” that such as situation would arise with one of the sport’s top teams. He managed to find a replacement with just 20 seconds to spare before his start time, although as he wrote on his website, the saddle was too low, he had no water bottles and 10 kilometres into the stage, his Pioneer power meter flew off his handlebars. Despite those setbacks, the LottoNL-Jumbo rider won by 10 seconds from IAM Cycling’s Matthias Brandle.

It’s unclear whether bikes were scanned for concealed motors on that particular day, although as Stade 2 notes, with no such control at the end, a bike switch immediately prior to setting off could be one way of evading the commissaires.

Stade 2, which last week claimed UCI technical manager Mark Barfield had tipped off electric assist road bike manfacturer Typhoon to a police operation on last year’s Tour de France against mechanical doping,  said it had contacted LottoNL-Jumbo for a comment but had received no reply.

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