The UCI and Italian police carried a surprise check on 36 bikes after the finish of Milan-San Remo, suspicious that some riders and teams may have used hidden motors during the race. Nothing was apparently found during the checks and all the bikes were eventually given back to the teams.
Cyclingnews understands that 11 Trek bikes from the Trek Factory Racing team, 11 Specialized bikes from Etixx-Quick Step and 11 Specialized bikes from Tinkoff-Saxo were checked by the UCI in a special tent erected in the bus parking area. The bikes of the three podium finishers: John Degenkolb (Giant), Alexander Kristoff (Canyon) and Michael Matthews (Scott) were also checked in the podium area. Gazzetta dello Sport reported that bikes from the Astana were also tested, but the team has told Cyclingnews that their bikes were not.
In the past the UCI has carried out checks for so-called ‘mechanical doping’ using a scanner, and introduced specific rules that allow for checks. The suspicion of small motors being hidden in the seat tube of bikes first emerged in 2010, sparking a series of headlines and firm denials. However despite occasional checks at races and accusations based on video evidence, no motors have ever been discovered.
The UCI reportedly checked two bikes from six different teams at Paris-Nice but the checks done after Milan-San Remo seemed more serious and less random. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, six police officers and an investigating magistrate were also present to investigate possible sporting fraud, which is a crime in Italy.
The UCI announced the surprise bike checks via race radio just 20km from the finish of Milan-San Remo, as riders prepared to attack the Poggio. Some riders were apparently stopped just after the finish, with bikes tagged and then quickly taken from riders and mechanics as they reached team buses parked 300 metres from the finish. As part of the process head mechanics from the teams were identified and signed documents that the tests had been carried out correctly. Some teams had to remove seat posts and bottom brackets so that the UCI inspectors could see inside the frames using a tiny video camera.
Senior UCI Commissaire Philippe Marien was present during the testing. He refused to comment when asked about the checks by Cyclingnews. The UCI eventually issued a brief statement to Cyclingnews on Monday, confirming that it "carried out unannounced bike checks at Milano-San Remo" and that it "has planned to do so on other races throughout the international calendar."