Belgian cyclo-cross rider Femke Van den Driessche has denied any knowledge of the motor that was discovered in her bike at the World Championships in Zolder on Saturday. In an emotional interview with Sporza, Van den Driessche – joined by her father - said that she had been surprised by its presence and said she was innocent.
“I didn’t know anything about it. I don’t know how that bike got there. I was surprised to see that bike standing there. It’s not my bike. There’s been a mistake,” she told the Belgian broadcaster Sporza. “There was nothing in the bike that I used at the start of the race. I train hard for it too, you know. Then it’s no fun to be accused like this.
“If I would’ve been on a bike like that I would’ve been more consistent. I’ve always peaked towards those moments. I worked really hard for it. I haven’t got anything to say about it but it’s really terrible.”
The 19-year-old Van den Driessche found herself at the centre of a storm after the inaugural women’s under 23 race when the UCI found a motor inside the frame of her bike during routine checks. The Belgian press reported the finding of electrical cables in the seat post and a motor in the bottom bracket. She now faces at least a six-month ban and 20,000 Swiss franc fine, although the punishment could be much more severe than that.
“I hope they see the truth,” she said crying.
“I don’t know how it got there. I’m focused on myself on that day. I took care of myself. I was in front. At the back, the mechanics made a mistake,” Van den Driessche continued to profess her innocence. “They can check everything: all my cross bikes, all my road bikes. They will not find anything. I’m 100 per cent sure about it."
As Belgian and European under 23 champion, Van den Driessche had gone into the race as one of the favourites. Beset, perhaps ironically, by mechanical issues she didn’t play a part in it and was eventually forced to cross the line on foot because of them. Van den Driessche is also a former mountain bike junior national champion. When asked if this could spell the end of her young career Van den Driessche said, “yes, I think so.”
Van den Driessche offered up a potential reason for the bike’s presence, saying that it was owned by someone she’d been training with. “That bike belongs to a friend of mine,” she said. “He trains along with us. He joined my brothers and my father. That friend joined my brother at the reconnaissance and he placed the bike against the truck but it’s identical to mine. Last year he bought it from me. My mechanics have cleaned the bike and put it in the truck. They must’ve thought that it was my bike. I don’t know how it happened.”
She added when questioned if she would ever consider doing it. “I would never do it. It’s a sport I love very much.”
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