In an odd turn of events, a 73-year-old man has been caught using an electric motor hidden in the rear hub to finish 16th overall in an event intended purely for fun. The 12th edition of the Col du Benas is an organized event held on August 28th, with no monetary winnings but rather awards for top riders, that ascends across 9.875km around an average of 4.7% and had 112 participants this year. Event organizers stated that the cyclist could have ridden in a category for e-bikes had he registered the bike before the event, but instead chose to ride in the main category. The unnamed individual is the president of a local cycling club in the Rhône Valley region.
A nature park in the region of Freyssenet, France, where the event was held.
Participants felt something was amiss after getting passed by the rider and hearing a whirring sound from the rear of his bicycle. After the event finished, riders voiced their concerns and the suspect vehemently denied the accusations until the event staff proved otherwise. After being caught, the rider then went on to defend his actions by stating that his age and physical condition would have prevented his participation in the event, a claim which holds little weight as the organizers stated that the event is not a professional race and he could have ridden in an e-bike category.
The rider went on to remark (translated from French), "Everyone knew and many people had seen my bike before the grand departure, telling me it was beautiful and no one stopped me from taking off. And now they crucify me! I made a mistake, I admit, but I did it consciously. Plus the test regulations do not mention the prohibition of using pedal-assisted vehicles. I prefer mechanical doping to drug doping. In any case, at 73, I try to make the most of cycling."
Event organizers commented on the odd circumstance, which went around French national news, by stating (translated from French), "We were blown away. This is something that stains our race, which is first of all an appointment where the best can be measured against Sunday cyclists. There is no prize and nothing to be gained. It is incomprehensible that he has hidden from us that he was racing with an electric bike. If he had told us we would have clearly made him race with a separate classification."