Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quickstep) has described mechanical doping as the ‘lowest of the low’ but thinks it is no longer used in the peloton. Speaking on Belgian television, Boonen said that there may have been riders who have tried mechanical doping in the past but recent stories on the subject are sensationalist.
"You are naive if you think built-in motors on bikes do not exist," Boonen told the Sporza show Extra Time Koers, which also had BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet as a guest. "If it exists there will certainly be riders who have tried it but I do not think that's still happening.
"I do believe that there are many journalists making a sensation and they want to write sensational news."
Mechanical doping made the headlines recently after French television channel Stade 2 and Italian newspaper Corriere della Seraclaimed that motors had been used during Strade Bianche and Coppi e Bartali. Boonen told the programme that he would never consider using a motor, saying that no self-respecting rider would.
"Every great rider who respects himself should never ride with a motor in his bike. That is the lowest of the low. I would never think of doing that. There is nothing as simple as detecting a motor in a bike."
Riding in 2017
During the hour-long programme, Boonen also touched on the subject of his contract for next season. Prior to Paris-Roubaix, Boonen’s manager Patrick Lefevere said that the 35-year-old should retire if he went on to win a historic fifth cobble. Boonen finished second and said afterwards that he would take the time to consider his options for next year but indicated that he would look to ride in 2017. He reiterated that stance on Extra Time Koers, confirming that he would like to ride for at least one more season.
“I would like to do a spring [campaign],” he said. “If I had won Paris-Roubaix, I would not have stopped racing immediately. Therefore, the enthusiasm and morale are too big. I just like it too much."
Boonen's current deal with Etixx-QuickStep runs out at the end of this season, after extending for just one year in 2015. Boonen has been with the Belgian outfit through its various guises for almost his entire career and says that it is possible he will stick with them for next year but cannot be certain.
"My contract with QuickStep expires at the end of the season. The same team is possible. Everything is possible. I see what's coming at me and what the team’s plan for me is."
Boonen said that it would be ideal if Van Avermaet – who is also out of contract this winter – could succeed him at Etixx-QuickStep. Van Avermaet responded that his preference was to stay with BMC, joking that Boonen could come over to the American team and help pull him up the Oude Kwaremont.
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