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Two cyclists had been under suspicion for a while due to their results, says race organiser

Two participants in an amateur race in Italy who were accused by other entrants of using hidden motors in their bikes refused to have them checked by the organisers and fled before Carabinieri officers arrived.

The incident happened on Saturday at the Criterium Portogruarese in the Veneto region jn the north east of the country, reports La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The newspaper says that some of the riders competing in the race had harboured suspicions for some time that two of their fellow competitors were benefiting from illegal assistance in the shape f concealed motors.

Race organiser Lorenzo De Luca said that the eighth-place finish of a rider named Alessandro Fantin had unleashed a protest by other participants.

“The riders were enraged because Fantin and another rider had been watched for a while due to accusations of using rigged bikes.

“At the end of the race we stopped both of them and asked to check their bikes. They refused.

“At that point we called the Carabinieri so that the relevant authorities could carry out the checks.

“Nothing doing, those two jumped in their van and despite the other cyclists doing all they could to try and stop them from leaving, they fled shortly before the officers arrived.

“It’s disgraceful, but we as organisers can’t do any more than that, even if you could see a button on the handlebar.

“I’m sorry, but the only thing we could do was remove them from the list of finishers,” he added.

The only hidden motor found at top-level competition remains the one discovered in a bike belonging to Belgian 19-year-old Femke Van den Driessche at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships at Zolder in 2016. She was subsequently banned for six years.

Since then, the UCI has stepped up checks on bikes in elite races including the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France using x-ray machines, thermal imaging devices and tablet computers with a dedicated app.

There have been cases of people caught using concealed motors in amateur races, however.

Last year, French category 3 racer Cyril Fontaine was handed a five-year ban for technological fraud after he was targeted following a dramatic improvement in his results.

> Mechanical doping: French cyclist who used hidden motor in Cat-3 race receives five-year ban

In 2017, organisers of an amateur race in Lombardy, Italy said that they had found a motor hidden in the seatpost of a bike belonging to Alessandro Andreoli through thermal imaging although he made off before a mechanic could undertake a physical check of it, saying he had a wedding to attend.

> Italian amateur accused of motor doping has a string of excuses

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.