19-year old Femke Van den Dreisschel was racing in Saturday’s U23 women’s cyclocross world championships in her home country but was forced to abandon, citing a mechanical issue.
Her bike was subsequently taken for a mandatory check by the sport’s governing body, the UCI, and was later detained as they termed it a “technological fraud”.
And yesterday, the presence of a motor inside the bike’s frame was confirmed, prompting huge controversy.
A tearful Van den Dreisschel stood before the press and pleaded innocence.
“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 said. “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.”
The European champion then laid the blame on her mechanics before changing her story.
“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.
“That bike belongs to a friend of mine... He trains along with us. He joined my brothers and my father. That friend joined my brother at 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.”
Representing Ireland in Belgium over the weekend were David Conroy in the junior men’s race and David Montgomery in the men’s U23 event. Conroy finished 48th overall while Montgomery was forced to withdraw after three laps because of a back injury.
Meanwhile, Sam Bennett finished fourth in the bunch sprint that decided yesterday’s Trofeo Playa de Palma-Palma (161km).
The Bora-Argon 18 sprinter couldn’t match Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) who took his season tally to two wins from two, while rounding out the podium were Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis, Credit Solutions) and Dylan Page (Team Roth).