Accusations that Fabian Cancellara resorted to mechanical doping during his career are once more in the news after former pro Phil Gaimon raised doubts about Cancellara's infamous acceleration to drop Tom Boonen on the Kapelmuur in the 2010 Tour of Flanders in his latest book, "Draft Animals: Living the Pro Cycling Dream (Once in a While)", which was released last month.
Gaimon, in his book, says Cancellara's actions that year raised suspicions even in the pro peloton, with the Swiss star rumoured to have been keeping his own mechanic and his bike separate from the rest of his team.
"When you watch the footage, his accelerations don't look natural at all, like he's having trouble staying on the top of the pedals. That fucker probably did have a motor," Gaimon wrote in the book.
When reached by Cyclingnews after the passage became inflated on social media and other news outlets, Gaimon told Cyclingnews that the articles circulating about that quote which emphasized his accusation of mechanical doping missed the point.
"I do think it happened that year a couple times, but as soon as somebody noticed and it became a story nobody did it again. I think it's an absolute clickbait, red herring - even up to the new UCI president [David Lappartient] who is acting like it's a big issue that he is going to get to the bottom of. Anyone on the inside knows it's a joke."
- French veteran rider reportedly caught using mechanical doping
- Doubts raised over effectiveness of UCI tests for mechanical doping
- Mechanical doping: A brief history
- Froome: I couldn't start a race if I believed someone was using a motor
- Report: Four ways to hide motor doping in a race bike
Gaimon still contends that Cancellara's accelerations - in particular in his 2008 Milan-Sanremo victory - look unnatural, and that there were rumors of people who were 'in the know' that Cancellara was acting suspicious, but emphasized that it is just his opinion from the angle he was viewing it, and it's a topic that has been discussed ad nauseum.
"I don't feel like it's news," Gaimon said. "My goal [of the book] was to give people new heros and tear down the old heroes. It was always frustrating for me to see the fans - they love Jens [Voigt], Cancellara, the Schlecks, and they don't know who Alex Howes is, and the real people I think deserve admiration didn't get enough. That was something I tried to correct in a way with the book."
He expected some passages of the book to be highlighted by the media, but expressed disappointment that this one was taken in the context that it was.
"I wish they had found a more interesting angle, but the reality is it's clickbait. I do think motor doping happened for a minute with one guy, and everyone else keeps bringing it up."
Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A swimmer in her younger days, Laura made the change to cycling later in life, but was immediately swept up by a huge passion for the sport. Riding for fitness quickly gave way to the competitive urge, and a decade of racing later she can look back on a number of high profile races and say with confidence, "I started". While her racing days are over for the most part, she continues to dabble in cyclo-cross and competing against fellow pathletes on the greenways of Raleigh, North Carolina.
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