ABERGAVENNY cyclist Ffion James enjoyed her first taste of representing Great Britain at the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships in Belgium – an event that was overshadowed by an alleged 'mechanical doping' case.

James, younger sister of track world champions Becky and Rachel, finished 15th in the under-23 category at the championships at the weekend.

The gold medal went to fellow British cyclist Evie Richards, who became the first-ever champion in the category.

But the main talking point came when an inspector in Zolder located a small motor in the bottom bracket of a machine reportedly belonging to the pre-race favourite, the European champion Femke van den Driessche of Belgium.

The Union Cycliste Internationale said in a statement “that pursuant to the UCI’s Regulations on technological fraud a bike has been detained for further investigation following checks at the Women’s Under 23 race of the 2016 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships.

“This does not concern any of the riders on the podium. Further details will be shared in due course.”

The Belgian media outlet Sporza reported that the Belgian Cycling Federation had confirmed that the detained bike belonged to Van den Driessche, who had abandoned the race due to a mechanical issue shortly before the bike was scrutinised.

The Belgian rider denies any wrongdoing, claiming the bike belonged to a friend.

Richards finished 35 seconds ahead of second-placed Nikola Noskova of the Czech Republic.

Maud Kaptheijns of the Netherlands was a further 12 seconds back in third place.

James finished 3mins 18sec behind the winner but was happy with the experience.

The 18-year-old wrote on Twitter: “Loved racing in the first ever U23 Women’s World Cyclo-cross Champs this weekend. Huge congrats to @eviee_alicee [Evie Richards] for the win!”

She added: “Great to see so many British supporters at the Champs, cross is definitely growing in the UK. Thanks to everyone who shouted for me!”

James, a member of Abergavenny Racing Club, won the Colin Thornton Memorial Award for best Welsh Junior Performance at the 2015 USN Welsh Cycling Awards.

She enjoyed a successful 12 months in mountain bike cross country and cyclo-cross – winning national titles and finishing 13th in the UCI World Mountain Bike XC Championships with Great Britain.