Tour de France will use high-tech scanning system to find hidden motors

The bike race's governing body says it will use a tablet, case, adapter and custom software to test the frame, wheels and components in under a minute.

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Rochelle Garner is features editor for CNET News. A native of the mythical land known as Silicon Valley, she has written about the technology industry for more than 20 years. She has worked in an odd mix of publications -- from National Geographic magazine to MacWEEK and Bloomberg News.
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The Tour de France has been rooting out "enhanced" cyclists for years. Now the race is turning to special equipment to find actual motors that cyclists may hide in their bikes to give them an extra edge.

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) said Monday it will conduct between 3,000 and 4,000 tests over the two-week event. (Teams typically bring multiple bikes for each rider and the expected conditions.) The UCI began using its new scanning system -- comprising a tablet, case, adapter and custom software -- in January, when it found a motor hidden in the bike of Belgian rider Femke Van den Driessche.

She has since been banned from racing for six years.

"Since the beginning of the year, we are sending a clear message which is that there is literally nowhere to hide for anyone foolish enough to attempt to cheat in this way," UCI President Brian Cookson said in a statement. "A modified bike is extremely easy to detect with our scanners and we will continue to deploy them extensively throughout the Tour and the rest of the season."

The UCI says it can scan a complete bike -- including frame, wheels and components -- in less than a minute. If the scan finds anything "unusual," the bike or component will be dismantled so it can be inspected, the UCI said in a statement.

The 103rd Tour de France begins Saturday and will stretch over 21 stages and more than 3,500 kilometers before finishing July 24.