Are motors used in competitive cycling more than we think? Ghost in the Machine peers behind the curtain in a new podcast from Stak.
January 2016. It’s the Cyclo-cross World Championships in Belgium and 19-year-old cyclist Femke Van den Driessche is waiting at the starting line of the Under 23 Women’s race. As the tension starts to mount, with the sound of the crowds all around her and bicycle chains wiring, the tannoy calls two minutes until the starting bell. Femke is set to be the golden girl of cycling for her home country… Little did she know that this would be her final competition.
Race officials were called to inspect her spare bike and, as they removed the seat, spools of wires cascaded out from within. They revealed a motor, hidden in the seat post. Femke is the first and only person to be banned by The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) for having a motor in her bike. Since that fateful race in 2016, Femke has faded out of the limelight. No more cycling, no press, no explanation.
Now, investigative journalist Chris Marshall-Bell sets off to uncover this new scandal of cycling and the truth behind Femke’s story. He speaks to people who were at the centre of the saga in 2016, including exclusive interviews with Femke Van den Driessche, and her family friend embroiled in the case, Nico van Muylder. But, is Femke really the only person to have used a motor in her bike? Or, as many claim, is this only the beginning? Do gross examples of cheating pervade even the highest levels of cycling?
Through interviews with former race winners, Chris examines how this has affected the reputation of the sport and what more can be done to stop it. Moreover, current and ex-riders reveal their suspicions around the use of motors to aid various racing victories, providing unique insight into the underbelly of cycling.
But there is so much more to this story. From peculiar tales of pigeon doping to canary theft, bankruptcy sagas, and even a carnival cat costume, the podcast explores the quirky and bizarre aspects of human nature and what individuals are willing to do to come out on top.
From the acclaimed makers of Football Ramble, Inside the Qatar World Cup and P1 with Matt and Tommy, Stak proudly presents Ghost in the Machine, a limited series releasing new episodes every Monday. You can catch up on episodes one and two and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts.
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