The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has revealed its strategy to check for possible technological fraud at the upcoming Tour de France (1st – 24 July).
Controls for the presence of any possible propulsion and energy accumulation systems hidden in tubes and other bike components will be carried out with the use of three tools: magnetic tablets, mobile X-Ray cabinet and portable devices using backscatter and transmission technologies.
Before each of the 21 stages, a UCI Technical Commissaire will be at the team buses to check all bikes being ridden at the start of that day’s stage. These pre-stage checks will be carried out using magnetic tablets. The software of these tablets – that were first introduced by the UCI in 2016 – has recently been upgraded.
After each stage, checks will be carried out on bikes ridden by:
- the stage winner
- riders wearing a leader’s jersey (yellow, green, polka dot, white)
- three to four randomly-selected riders
- riders who give rise to suspicion, for example following the pre-stage scan, an abnormally high number of bike changes (in which case the bikes on the team car can also be checked) or other incidents picked up by the UCI Video Commissaire.
These post-stage checks will be carried out using either mobile X-Ray technology (introduced by the UCI in 2018) or the International Federation’s most recent addition (in 2021) to its testing arsenal that uses backscatter and transmission technologies. If necessary, the bike in question will be dismantled.
Bikes undergoing post-stage checks will be tagged as soon as the rider crosses the line, and the control will take place within minutes.
As a reminder, the mobile X-Ray technology, which is safe for users and riders, provides high resolution X-Ray image of a complete bike in just five minutes. Meanwhile the backscatter and transmission technology provides instantaneous high resolution images of the interior of the sections examined that can be transmitted, remotely, directly to the UCI Commissaires.
For road cycling, the UCI carries out bike checks at all UCI WorldTour events, as well as the UCI Road World Championships, UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships, UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup, UCI Women’s WorldTour events and the Olympic Games. Controls are also carried out at UCI World Championships for mountain bike, cyclo-cross and track as well as the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup.
At last year’s Tour de France, a total of 1,008 bike checks were carried out and no cases of technological fraud were detected.
The UCI’s Head of Road and Innovation Michael Rogers said: “The UCI continues to take the possibility of technological fraud extremely seriously. Our range of tools to fight against any form of such cheating enables us to carry out checks that are rapid and effective. This is essential to be sure that cycling competitions are fair and to protect the integrity of the sport and its athletes.”