The UCI has confirmed that Chris Froome’s bike was X-rayed after his solo stage victory in Bardonecchia on stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia, as part of the governing body’s fight against mechanical doping.
Cyclingnews understands that the bikes of the top eight riders on the stage were tested using the mobile X-ray machine that was introduced this spring and used for the first time in the Ardennes Classics.
Bikes are immediately tagged when riders cross the finish line and then taken to the X-ray cabinet in the anti-doping area. The bike is loaded into the mobile unit, with the X-ray images of the bottom bracket, wheels and frame seen on a laptop. The whole process only takes a few minutes.
The eight bikes tested after stage 19 to Bardonecchia belonged to Chris Froome (Team Sky), Richard Carapaz (Movistar), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Sebastian Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ), Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Sam Oomen (Team Sunweb).
The UCI only officially communicates the total number of bikes tested per day in the evening Jury Communique that also lists rider and team fines. Friday’s Jury Communique said that a total of 135 bikes were checked. However, this number includes bikes checked quickly before the stage start using the UCI tablet device.
Former UCI president Brian Cookson and the UCI Equipment Manager Mark Barfield first introduced the use of the tablet device to try to detect mechanical doping, but doubts were raised about the validity of the tablet device and its software.
Barfield was soon shown the door when Lappartient beat Cookson to be elected UCI president last September. He hired former French rider Jean-Christophe Péraud as the new UCI Equipment manager, while Bob Stapleton, chairman of the board of USA Cycling and newly elected to the UCI Management Committee, is also part of the UCI technical commission.
Lappartient announced the UCI’s beefed-up strategy to fight mechanical in Geneva in March, presenting the mobile X-ray cabinet and promising that thermal imaging cameras will also be used, with RFID tagging and the use of miniature magnometer trackers options for the future. The UCI also introduced a VAR (Video Assist Referee) that studies all the television images of a race that helps the UCI race judges spot any suspicious bike or wheel changes.
"We're going to do our utmost so that we won't have future cases of technological fraud. The sport has suffered from doping in the past and we don't want our other riders to suffer anymore," Lappartient said at the presentation of the X-ray cabinet in March.