Spanish sports daily AS has asked, for the second time inside a month, whether world cyclo-cross champion Wout Van Aert is using an illegal hidden motor in his bike.
The question was prompted after an incident during yesterday’s Karawarencross in Lille, Belgiun when Van Aert’s rear wheel slipped sideways behind him.
The Belgian managed to save himself from going down, while Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel likewise managed to remain upright and avoid hitting the barriers, and would go on to secure victory.
But AS suggests that as Van Aert stops pedalling, his rear wheel seems to spin around faster than it should.
“Van Aert’s bicycle is again raising doubts about this strange rear wheel movement,” said AS. “Motor or simple skidding?”
The Spanish newspaper made similar claims against the world champion following a round of the World Cup in Fiuggi, Italy last month, when again the rear wheel of his bike seemed to spin around of its own accord.
At the time, Van Aert was running with his bike on an off-camber section – with Cyclocross.com’s explanation of that incident being that his pedal seemed to get caught on some mud, causing the wheel to spin.
Yesterday’s incident is referenced in this report on the website of CX Magazine, but purely from a racing perspective and with no suggestion that there is anything suspicious about Van Aert’s bike.
Belgian newspaper Het Niewusblad said there was “no hard evidence” to back up AS’s latest claims.
It’s just over a year now since, after several years of rumours, a hidden motor was found in competition for the first time in a bike prepared for the Belgian Under-23 rider Femke Van Den Driessche at the world championships.
While rumours persist of the use of concealed motors in cycling, that remains the one and only time one has actually been found.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.