Italian bike manufacturer Wilier Triestina has threatened legal action against Belgian rider Femke Van den Driessche after one of its bikes got caught in a scandal during the Cyclo-cross World Championships this weekend. The 19-year-old European and Belgian under-23 champion was found to have a motor in one of her Willier Trestina bikes after the women’s under 23 race on Saturday.
“We work every day to bring worldwide the quality of our products and when we know that a Wilier Triestina bike is meanly tampered with, we’re very sad," said CEO Andrea Gastaldello in a statement on the manufacturer’s website.
"Our company will take legal action against the athlete and against anyone responsible for this very serious matter, in order to safeguard the good name and image of the company, marked by professionalism and seriousness in 110 years of history."
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Van den Driessche has denied all knowledge of the motor, claiming that the bike in question belonged to a friend. However, Wilier Triestina, who supply a number of teams including Van den Driessche’s Kleur Op Maat outfit, have sought to try and remove their bikes from the scandal.
"We are literally shocked," read the statement. "As the main technical partner, we want to distance ourselves from this act, which is absolutely contrary to the basic values of our company, and to the principles of sporting competition. [It is] really unacceptable that the photos of our bike are making the rounds on international media outlets due to this unpleasant fact.”
The discovery of a motor in Van den Driessche’s bike is the first such finding by the UCI, although there have been claims that the issue is more prevalent than is immediately apparent. The case is due to go through a disciplinary process and Van den Driessche could face at least a six-month ban and a fine of 200,000 euros.