Are the UCI and the ASO at it again? The ASO announced it refuses to talk until motorised doping is "sorted". The UCI released a statement about its bike checks.

In December, Tour de France organiser ASO said it would withdraw all seven of its races from the International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour calendar in 2017 because of a disagreement over the reform of the calendar and the selection of teams. The two parties have not spoken since. 

In Qatar on Friday, Tour de France director, Christian Prudhomme told gathered media he now ranks motorised doping as a more pressing issue and refuses to talk to the UCI until it is dealt with. 

“If that problem is not sorted, then what is the point of talking about anything else? That’s the priority, to have systematic checks on motors,” he said. 

Coincidentally or not, the UCI released this statement about checks it conducted at a race in Europe yesterday:

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirms that it has carried out unannounced bike checks at La Méditerranéenne on Friday 12 February, 2016, and that no technological fraud was detected.

Tests concerned 90 bikes from six teams participating.

These bike checks used the same type of equipment which the UCI trialled at the 2016 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Heusden-Zolder (Belgium) where a concealed engine was detected. This equipment enables those performing the tests to investigate large numbers of bikes, both frames and wheels, in a short period of time.

The UCI has invested considerable time and financial resources in this area and trialling new methods of detection is part of its commitment to ensuring its tests are as robust as possible. Intelligence has also been gained from active engagement with the industry and other information given to us which has enabled us to refine and improve our testing.

The UCI will continue to test significant numbers of bikes in unannounced tests in all disciplines throughout 2016 and beyond.

Claudio Cucinotta, a coach at Bardiani CSF cycling team posted this video of the checks at the race: 

Prudhomme downplayed ASO's conflict with the UCI in a closing salvo about Cookson's use of the word war.

"After the Paris attacks two months ago, I’d never use the word war. There are differences, yes, but this is not a war,” he said. 

Whatever it is, and whatever issues the UCI may struggle to deal with, it can't be accused of indolence on this issue, even without this announcement of more and improved testing. Unsubstantiated rumours of motorised doping surfaced in 2010 and the UCI were one of the only major players that took it seriously, with evidence of numerous checks at major races at least in 2015, if not for the past few seasons, including ASO's Tour de France.


Tour organisers pull races from UCI's 2017 calendar
ASO, cycling's top race organiser with events including the Tour de France, claim they will pull out of the UCI's WorldTour for the 2017 season.

Saturday 13 Feb 2016

Daryl Impey won the South African national time trial title in Wartburg on Thursday, his fifth victory in the event, the last four in a row. Impey lived up to his pre-race favourite status covering the 48km route in 1hour 1minute and 23 seconds. 

"I'm pretty happy that each time I've started the elite champs I've been able to win," he said.

"There's always pressure coming here, beacuse I've always been the favourite, so its a relief to come back here and back it up. I've worked really hard in December and January coming off Tour Down Under. After the crash I had, I needed a few extra days to take it easier and I freshened up nicely in to this.

"I had a pretty tough fight out there from Reinardt (Rensburg), so I was just really happy to finish it off today and deliver when it mattered." 

Predictably, the podium was rounded out by Team Dimension Data riders Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg and Johan Van Zyl.

Team Dimension Data's continental team also dominated the U23 time trial. 19-year-old Stefan de Bod, clocked a time 12 seconds off Impey's elite time to win ahead of team-mates Ryan Gibbons and Keagan Girdlestone.  

With favourite, Cervelo-Bigla rider Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio out of the women's time trial race due to illness, the way was open for domestic rider Juanita Venter. 

The championships continue with the elite women's road race today, and the men's road race tomorrow. 

South Africa National Time Trial Results Men:
1. Daryl Impey (OGE) 1:01:23
2. Reinardt J V Rensburg (TDD) +0:44
3. Johan Van Zyl (TDD) +2:48

1. Juanita Venter 39:19
2. Samantha Sanders 0:31
3. Cashandra Slingerland 1:09 

State of Matter-MAAP rider Chris Harper shows us just how difficult it is to chase back on after a nature break at the Herald-Sun Tour when everyone - everyone - has left you behind. Harper provides commentary - don't watch with the sound down. 

Tejay van Garderen will test his racing legs for the first time in 2016 at the Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia and Clasica de Almeria races, also the first time at these one-day races for Team BMC. 

"The decision to start the season in Spain (this weekend) is due to a number of reasons. I've opened the two previous seasons with the Tour of Oman, but we felt it was a good idea to stay in Europe, in the same time zone, with a better climate and eliminate the travel involved. These races are competitive and will really set my season up well," van Garderen said. 

"We're sending a solid GC team to the two races so that they can get a couple of good race days in their legs before continuing on to Ruta del Sol. Really anyone from the team has a shot in Murcia, and then Almeria is traditionally a sprinters' race," Sports Director Jackson Stewart said. 

Team BMC for Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia and Clasica de Almeria
Darwin Atapuma (COL), Brent Bookwalter (USA), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Ben Hermans (BEL), Samuel Sanchez (SPA), Tejay van Garderen (USA)