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Riders in disguise: Women’s cycling team suspended by UCI for “fraudulent actions” of dressing mechanic as rider to avoid disqualification

Cynisca Cycling’s now-suspended sports director had instructed the four riders to lie about the missing fifth rider, whose place was taken by the team mechanic

In a bid to avoid disqualification from a European classic race, women’s cycling team Cynisca Cycling came up with a rather inventive mechanism of charades and disguise, however, the UCI has seen through the ruse and handed the team and its members a suspension.

At the Argenta Classic, a women’s one-day race from Ekeren to Deurne in Belgium, the American pro cycling team were missing its French rider Greta Richioud due to illness. However, instead of coming clean, the Cynisca’s DS Danny van Haute instructed the four riders present to lie about the whereabouts of Richioud, initially claiming that she was present but ill.

But when the race commissaries informed the team that they could not participate without all five riders signing the start sheet and taking the start, Van Haute asked the team mechanic, Moira Barrett, to wear the Richioud’s kit and face mask — and to present herself at the start as the Cynisca’s fifth rider.

In a statement shared with, the UCI said: “The Disciplinary Commission found that, although only four riders were present and available to start the event, several members of the team had participated in a fraud under article 12.4.008 of the UCI Regulations by attempting to deceive the Commissaires’ Panel into believing that a fifth rider was present and could take part in the event.

“The members of the team were therefore all found to have participated in a fraud under article 12.4.008 of the UCI Regulations, with different levels of implication.

“Danny van Haute was found to be the main perpetrator and was sanctioned with a suspension from any activity in cycling until 31 December 2025 as well as a fine.

“Moira Barrett played an active role in the fraud by wearing a rider’s clothes and attempting to sign the start sheet as the team’s fifth rider. She was sanctioned with a suspension from any activity in cycling until 1st September 2024.”

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The rest of the riders, meanwhile, were found to have followed Van Haute’s instructions and sanctioned with a reprimand, while the whole team was also sanctioned with a suspension effective for the next UCI event as well as an undisclosed sum of fine.

As of now, Danny van Haute and Moira Barrett are no longer listed as employees on Cynisca Cycling’s official website.

This is the second time in a year the team has found itself making headlines for off-road incidents. In May last year, Cynisca parted ways with its board member Inga Thompson, a former world championship silver medallist and Tour de France Féminin podium finisher after the three-time Olympian called on riders to “take the knee” in protest against the UCI’s trans policy.

In recent years, Thomson has become vocal about campaigning for the exclusion of transgender athletes from elite women’s cycling, and in 2019 resigned from Oregon Bicycling Racing Association’s board of directors following a backlash over an interview she gave to Save Women’s Sports, in which she called for the creation of a separate racing category for trans cyclists.

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The team accused Thompson of “dehumanising” transgender people and “spreading misinformation”, causing journalists to refuse to cover the team and leading potential staff members and riders to decline job offers “out of fear of crossing or appearing to align themselves with her”.

“Inga Thompson is no longer a member of the Cynisca board of directors and will have no consulting or any other role with Cynisca. The association with Ms Thompson has affected Cynisca’s brand and reputation,” the team said in a statement.

Adwitiya joined in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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dubwise | 4 months ago

So small teams will punished either way. What they did was wrong but to disqualify due to being a rider short is poor.

How often have we heard that the big teams were a rider down but faced no consequences?

As Destroyer666 says their was no need for the whole Inga Thomson story.

Rendel Harris | 4 months ago

It's perhaps unfortunate that a team indulging in such manipulative behaviour should be quite such an obvious anagram of Cynics A...


Destroyer666 | 4 months ago

I am not a fan of this trend where a news article gets dumped with everything but the kitchen sink regarding the issue - here for example a simple reference link to the other Cynisca Cycling incident would've pretty much sufficed, instead of having the entire last third of the entire article dedicated to Inga Thomson, who has nothing to do with the title issue.

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