Bradley Wiggins has said that he thinks that the use of motors in cycling has been going on for some time. Speaking after the pre-race press conference for the Dubai Tour, Wiggins added that the discovery of a motor in the bike of Belgian teenager Femke Van den Driessche could actually be a good thing.
"I think it's probably been around for a while," Wiggins told the press in Dubai. "For five years now they've had this suspicion because they've been checking the bikes. I think it is the first one they've found, but I'm sure that it has happened in the past, but they haven't found them. It's just one of them things.
"In a way, it is good that they found it because they've been checking them for five years now. They did it after the Hour Record; they took my bike to pieces. They didn't give up with it, which is a good thing."
The UCI introduced new regulations surrounding what they call 'technical fraud' in early 2015 and has been testing bikes throughout the past season. However, the Van den Driessche case is the first concrete evidence that the practice went on. Motorised doping was a hot topic of discussion in Dubai, one of the first races since the scandal broke, with Fabian Cancellara also being probed for his thoughts. At the Ladies Tour of Qatar, which began on Tuesday, Eddy Merckx also gave his views, saying that riders should be banned for life if they were found to be using a motor.
"I would probably agree with that," said Wiggins. "But you've got to ask questions of the athlete. It's one thing to choose to blood dope, but it's another thing to choose to put a motor in your bike. Aside from ethically, you've got to ask a lot of questions of the athlete, especially the girl that they found it in because she was the favourite to win the race anyway."
When asked if he thought that the use of a motor was worse than taking performance enhancing drugs, Wiggins said, "It's different, I wouldn't say it's worse. I think that they're both as bad as each other. I can understand why people would dope in terms of what's to be gained from it financially but to stick a motor in your bike, I don't understand the logic behind that and winning a race because you've got an extra 200-odd watts in your bottom bracket. It is the same thing as doping, but I can't see the logic in it."
Riding the Tour de France again?
During the interview, Wiggins also took some time to talk about his road programme for the up and coming season and his eponymous team. The Briton confirmed that his two remaining road races, after Dubai, would be the Tour of California and the Tour of Britain while he would likely end his career at Gent Six Day in November. He is also set to ride the Madison with Great Britain teammate Mark Cavendish at the Track World Championships next month.
Much of his racing will be done with team WIGGINS, which he hopes will be a good stepping stone for many riders. "I want it to be different. The team that we have is very different to a lot of teams that I've been involved in in the past," said Wiggins.
"It's quite engaging, and we're not a team of superstars. It's more about the development of the riders. I've always compared it to Axel Merckx's in the US and the amount of professionals he's produced. Giving guys a chance who don't go to the British academy so there is another team for them to go into before the big teams."
He has some big ambitions for the team too. "With the way ASO have come out of the WorldTour, it's possible that we could do the Tour de France next year if we got an invite and Paris-Roubaix and racing like that. It would be a fantastic opportunity for the young guys on our team."
Wiggins denied that he would try to join his team if they did get a Tour de France wildcard, saying that he is too fat now to ride it.