Vuelta a España leader Chris Froome (Sky) said he would struggle to make it to the start line if he genuinely believed that one of his rivals was using a hidden motor. But if they were, then they wouldn't get away with it for long.
Froome was asked about 'mechanical doping' and the UCI's detection methods in light of a documentary on French television channel Stade 2 that questioned the veracity of the UCI's tablet tests. The Team Sky rider had not seen the documentary but said that the important thing was that the UCI had been actively checking bikes for motors.
"I've definitely not had time to watch the documentary but I've heard about it. I don't know how much truth there is to it. I don't know if they did have the UCI technology or not," he said. "The most important thing for me is that they have been doing the checks. They have been dismantling the bikes for years now looking for motors, physically looking inside the bikes now. In my opinion, I can't even get onto the start line of a race and believe that someone is using a motor.
"It would be too much mentally to get onto the start line and even question my rivals could be racing with a motor in their bike. It's not something that I think about. If there is anyone using a motor, then I imagine that they will get caught pretty quickly."
Froome did not dwell on the subject too long. His primary focus is on closing out his first Vuelta a Espana victory. With two weeks of racing and several mountain stages behind him, Froome leads the overall classification by 1:01 over Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida). There has been some turmoil for the race leader, but physically he hasn't looked in serious trouble just yet, despite having a close-fought Tour de France already in his legs. Froome says things couldn't be much better going into the final week, and changing up his calendar has been a worthwhile endeavour.
"I think given this position that we're in right now after two weeks of racing, it's pretty much the dream scenario after the Tour de France and to still be feeling the way I'm feeling," said Froome. "I think planning the season the way that we did is paying off now. Doing less racing earlier on, to have done a specific training camp between the Tour and the Vuelta has certainly paid dividends. I think that we're in a fantastic position."
Take each day as it comes
If all goes to plan, then the stage 16 time trial should be a chance for Froome to cement his place in the leader's jersey. With only the slightest of rises to contend with in the 40-kilometre effort and plenty of long, straight roads, the course will allow the stronger time triallists to thrive while the others could give away a lot of time. Froome is among those likely to thrive, but he believes that there will be plenty of competition coming from his GC rivals.
"There are quite a few time triallists here to contend with," he said. "Certainly, [Ilnur] Zakarin looks in very good shape, and [Wilco] Kelderman. Alberto Contador has done some very decent time trials this year, and this will be his last competitive time trial so I expect that he will pull out all the stops. I think Vincenzo Nibali is not a bad time triallist himself. We've got a really good field here, and if I can gain any more time on my rivals then I'll be extremely happy."
There are still two big mountain stages to come with Los Machucos on Wednesday and the Alto de Angliru completing Saturday's final GC offering. Both ascents offer up some brutally steep gradients and either could change the complexion of the race in the blink of an eye. Going too deep on one stage, says Froome, could leave you hanging the following and the race has already shown Froome that he must expect the unexpected in the coming days.
"In a way, I think that tomorrow's time trial, whoever leaves absolutely everything out there in the time trial will pay for it the day after on Los Machucos. It's a really tough final week, and I think that every day has to be ridden thinking about what is coming up," he said.
"I'm not taking anything for granted up until this point. I know how quickly things can change, especially looking at last week. In what we thought would be a relatively easy stage, cruising towards the finish next thing I was on the ground twice and scrambling to catch the group again. It's typical of the Vuelta. It's an explosive race and there are a lot of opportunities for GC guys to attack and that's exactly what we've seen."
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