Video clip shows Ryder Hesjedal's bike spinning on the floor after he crashed on stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana, as international press asks whether it is motorised

Allegations that pro riders are using motors in their bikes during races have been resurrected after video footage emerged on the internet purporting to show Ryder Hesjedal’s bike moving by itself after he crashed on stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana.

The Garmin-Sharp rider crashed on a corner whilst in an escape group on Friday’s stage seven. As his bike falls to the road, it appears to start moving on its own accord before being run over by a motorbike.

This has prompted several media websites, including that of respected French newspaper L’Equipe, to ask whether the bike is motorised.

From the clip it’s impossible to tell the gradient of the road, and the motion of the bike could simply be explained by it slipping down the road. Commercially available motors in bicycles will also cause the chainset to rotate to drive the wheel, since the motor is in the bottom bracket – which is clearly not the case in this clip.

Claims of motors being used by professional riders first came to the fore in 2010, when Fabian Cancellara was accused of having a motor hidden in his bike to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

Italian former pro Davide Cassani has claimed that such bikes have existed – and been used – since 2004, and demonstrated a bike containing a hidden motor to Rai Television (see below).

Professional cycling’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), now regularly uses X-ray machines to scan bikes at events to detect hidden motors. As far as we know, they have never found one.

Update: Garmin-Sharp boss Jonathan Vaughters gives his explanation:

  • Hoggles

    With the latest bust, how wrong you and the other 40 up-voters turned out to be Rich. Sorry, but there is a real good chance Ryder had a motor in that bike. And was it really so hard to believe that guys who dope wouldn’t do anything they could to cheat in some other fashion? Why would anyone trust a known cheater like Ryder Hesjedal?

    As PR said below…. you really need to want to see nothing, to not see something suspicious here.

    I know hindsight is 20/20, but it was so obvious….even before this “first” bust of Femke Van den Driessche.

  • Hoggles

    Well well well…. We now know that “motor-doping” exists, thanks to Femke Van den Driessche.

    I’ve crashed enough times, on all surfaces, going very fast and pretty slow. I’ve never in my life seen a bike move like that, after a crash, all on it’s own. Not in person or on TV. Never. That’s why this clip was so fascinating at the time. Because cyclists and cycle journalists had never seen anything like it.

    There is zero doubt in my mind that Ryder was using a motor on this day in 2014. Even though the clip is in slo-mo, you can tell those three riders were not going very fast. Maybe 20 tops around that corner. If they were going any faster, Ryders reaction to the crash, and length of slide, would be much more severe. Yet, that back wheel continues to spin at a constant rate, even after hitting the ground.

    If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…. probably a duck

    Oh cycling. WTF.

  • pr

    The rear wheel sudden starts spinning and spins the bike UPHILL. This is before the motor bike drives over it. As someone below said, you really need to want to see nothing to not see something suspicious here. And he’s an admitted doper, so…

  • pr

    @ Mark M – NOT! The bike clearly spins on its own before the bike rides over it. I’ve ridden bikes for a long time and wiped out enough times, but I’ve never seen any thing like this.

    Also note: Hesjedal was also busted for doping if I recall correctly, so it’s in his wheelhouse, regrettably.

  • Mark Penrice

    Blimey, that’s an awful lot to infer from about two seconds of footage of a bike sliding along the floor… after the rider fell off because the tyres slipped on a poor surface in the first place.

    Why would you bother putting the kind of tiny little motor that would fit into a race bike without being spotted, when the amount of assistance it could offer a pro rider would be so minimal, and be completely overshadowed both by its own weight and that of the batteries needed to power it slowing the rider down when the motor wasn’t running / the juice ran out? And moreover, why use it (and thus have it continuing to power the wheel) when coasting downhill and not pedalling yourself?

  • Lawrence Rhodes

    Should have had spring retraction for the throttle. The bike was moving in the right direction to be helped. Whoever the rider was should be banned including the team then this cheating would stop.

  • David Chadderton

    Ah, the real clue is when a leading rider pulls into a service station, turns the bike upside down so the seat tube batteries drop out and fresh EverReadies are dropped down the seat tube with a quick release seat post. Watch out for that.

  • Eric

    spinning back wheel touches pavement, thus rotating the bike a bit.

  • Laurenz Rip

    Option 1:

  • Laurenz Rip

    The truth:

  • Zoe Mullins

    The wheel was still spinning when he hit the ground due
    to the wet tarmac, but his right foot was still clipped in. When he
    unclipped it pushed the bike a bit and the already spinning wheel made
    it keep moving through the turn.

  • Zoe Mullins

    Are you blind? The wheel was still spinning when he hit the ground due to the wet tarmac, but his right foot was still clipped in. When he unclipped it pushed the bike a bit and the already spinning wheel made it keep moving through the turn.

  • Calum Croft

    It’s called gravity. If anyone cared to look they would see that the bike, although grounded, is still almost completely balanced between the front and the back wheel, with only the left hood of the bars lightly stabilising everything and not providing a great deal of friction. Combine this with the slope that we can clearly see he is on, it is perfectly feasible that the back wheel (at that incredibly low angle) might spin around the axis of the front wheel (which remains upright) in the downwards direction of the slope.

  • Mark Minn

    Ryder crashes, and the rear wheel keeps spinning. It rubs against the pavement, and drags the bike around, with the help of gravity, it’s in the middle of a banked turn. Wheel stops spinning around the time the motorcycle runs over the bike. Watch the video I linked to below. I only mentioned the motorcycle because Ian said…

    “When the bike comes to a standstill the wheel then magically begins to turn again, with enough energy to move the frame as well. ”

    The motorcycle caused this second movement.

    Eurosport has nothing to do with this, they were discussing the race live, long before this motor thing came back up.

    If it did have a motor, why would it be running while they were coasting downhill? The group was not pedaling when Ryder crashed.

  • George Vousden

    Are you blind? Have you watched the video? The bike is no where near the motorbike when the suspect movement occurs. The bike only gets run over at the end of the clip *after* the movement.

    Maybe you just believe anything anyone says on Eurosport.

  • Mark Minn

    Trying to post the link… cyclocosm.tumblr. com/post/96624423857/what-if-that-bike-has-a-motor-too-illuminati

    Remove the space between the dot and the com.

  • Mark Minn

    Hmm, I tried to link to a video but it didn’t work. Anyway, the bike spun around because the rapidly spinning rear wheel contacted the pavement. You could try it with your own bike, just get the wheel spinning pretty fast and set it down.

  • David chadderton

    Motors in Bicycles

    I think that Dr Hutch has an electric motor in his time trial bike frame. No one should be that fast. Makes me seem very slow, oh, I have alway been slow, so no change there. Why go fast anyway, misses the view.

  • Mark Minn

    The spinning rear wheel made the bike spin around when it rubbed up against the pavement. Motorbike made the bike move the second time.

  • stevephipps

    It was clearly run over AFTER it spun. You have to really want to see nothing to avoid see a power source in action here! Oh and I’m not a conspiracy theorist!

  • Philip Elliott

    Except that the bike spun round before it was hit by the motorbike.

  • Mark Minn

    You can see the motorcycle driver’s wrist bounce up as his wheel goes over the bike.

  • Mark Minn

    The bike moves because the motorcycle ran over it. i was listening to the race coverage when this happened, and they mentioned that the bike was run over.

  • Ian

    Lawyers are notoriously blinkered to see what they want. The wheel clearly stops turning as it skids on the tarmac. When the bike comes to a standstill the wheel then magically begins to turn again, with enough energy to move the frame as well. There is clearly an additional power source. Any non-physicist with half a brain can see that. Let’s wait for the result of an investigation.

  • PotbellyJoe

    No, that wheel was going the direction that would push the bike forward. If the bike were moving so that the seat was leading, not the bottom bracket, then the wheel would have been in reverse.

  • edr_cyclist

    A ridiculous accusation based on nothing. I am a lawyer and not a physicist, but even i can see inertia and gravity at work here. I am surprised “respectable” media outlets picked up on the story. The real story may be the credibility of those respectable media sources.


    For a motorized bike to move forward like that, the wheel would be in reverse.

  • lee

    well thats a complete non-story

  • Rich

    Shouldn’t a more accurate headline be “Idiots desperate for a scandal reach new low in stupidity”?