Pro riders caught in Austrian doping investigation; Dumoulin abandons Giro: Daily News Digest

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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:

Additional active cyclists have been linked to the Operation Aderlass doping investigation. Tom Dumoulin abandoned the Giro d’Italia, one day after a heavy fall on his left knee. Pascal Ackermann won the fifth stage of the Giro, which was neutralized due to weather conditions. Fabio Jakobsen took another win for Deceuninck-QuickStep in California. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: Operation Aderlass bags a few more names

Additional active cyclists have been linked to the Operation Aderlass doping investigation that began with Austrian cross-country skiers. On Tuesday, news spread that former Italian pro Alessandro Petacchi had been implicated in autologous blood doping in 2012 and 2013 as a client of German Mark Schmidt, who worked as doctor at the Gerolsteiner and Milram teams. On Wednesday, the UCI announced that three more names had been linked to the investigation, including two active riders.

Kristijan Koren (Bahrain-Merida) and Kristijan Durasek (UAE- Team Emirates) have both been provisionally suspended for use of a prohibited method. Koren is accused of working with Schmidt in 2012 and 2013, the same years as Petacchi; he was sent home from his participation in the Giro d’Italia. Durasek is accused of working with Schmidt in 2017; he was sent home from his participation in the Amgen Tour of California.

Borut Bozic, a former professional now working as a team director at Bahrain-Merida, was also implicated for his involvement in 2012 and 2013, and was also sent home from the Giro by his team.

The UCI stated that the federation and the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation, the independent body mandated by the UCI to lead its anti-doping efforts, have been in close contact with the sport and state authorities involved in the Aderlass investigation, in particular with the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Austrian law enforcement authorities.

Petacchi, who retired in 2015, was also added to the UCI’s list of individuals implicated in Operation Aderlass. Petacchi left the Giro d’Italia, where he was working as a race commentator for Italian TV, on Wednesday, and was replaced by Stefano Garzelli, a teammate of Marco Pantani’s who won the Giro in 2000 and was later associated with Italian doping doctor Michele Ferrari.

In March, Austrian riders Stefan Denifl and Georg Preidler were suspended in the same case after admitting to their involvement. On Sunday, Petacchi’s former teammate and lead-out man Danilo Hondo confessed to blood doping, saying he paid Schimdt €30,000 for his blood doping services in 2012 and 2013. In total, that’s six pro riders implicated, including four active riders, with three admissions of guilt.

French newspaper Le Monde reports that Petacchi was linked to Operation Aderlass after Schmidt named him during questioning by German investigators; Hondo allegedly confirmed Petacchi’s involvement.

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Dumoulin abandons Giro d’Italia

It turns out it was little more than a gesture to honor the race. Just a few seconds into Stage 5 of the Giro d’Italia, 2017 winner and 2018 runner-up Tom Dumoulin abandoned the race, one day after a heavy fall on his left knee.

Dumoulin (Sunweb) rolled across the start line in Frascati with a bandage on his left leg that covered cuts made by a chainring a day before. His knee was swollen and painful, and he visibly limped. He didn’t last long against an uphill start and the day’s cold rain, pulling off the road and stepping into his team car while the peloton was still in the neutral zone.

“I came here for a three-week adventure and I wanted to finish it. I’m not ready to go home,” Dumoulin said. “I went on the trainer this morning in my room and it was actually kind of ok, but when I stood up on the pedals my knee was really sore. I also tried it seated but that didn’t work either. I could spin the legs but not race.”

Dumoulin was caught in a large crash in the final kilometres of stage 4. He finished 4:04 back, surrounded by teammates, with blood streaming down his left knee, grease from the chainring visible across his left thigh. He quickly declared his GC bid over, but said he would start Wednesday’s stage if possible. As it turned out, it was not possible.

“For me, it’s terrible,” Dumoulin said. “Months of preparation and dedication went into this Giro and in one moment it’s over. It’s not how I wanted it to go, of course, but it is how it is. I don’t know how bad the injury is, we only know that nothing is broken and it will probably just be swollen for a few days, but we have to see. For now I will just rest and see how it goes.”

Ackermann wins Giro stage neutralized due to weather conditions

The clock running on Stage 5 of the Giro d’Italia, from Frascati to Terracina, was neutralized with 10km remaining due to wet roads. The race organizers, in agreement with UCI commissaires, decided that GC times would be taken on the first passage of the finish line on the closing circuit in Terracina. Points and time bonuses were awarded at the stage finish.

In the sprint to the line, German champion Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) came around Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates) to take his second stage win of this Giro.

Ackermann was forced to briefly hit the brakes when Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) swerved in front of him, but it may have proven to be a blessing in disguise as Gaviria had begun his sprint around 300 meters to go, perhaps a bit too early. The Bora-Hansgrohe rider was able to come around Demare, jump up to Gaviria’s wheel, and then pass him right at the line to take the victory. Demare finished third.

“I think this was two wins for me today,’ Ackermann said. “I had to brake in the last 250 metres. Fortunately, Gaviria was the perfect lead-out man for me.”

Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe) won a rain-soaked Stage 5 ahead of Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates).

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) retains the maglia rosa as leader of the general classification, 35 seconds ahead of Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), with Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) sitting third, 39 seconds back.

“It was the right decision to take the times 10km before the end,” Roglic said. “We always try to stay safe. We saw yesterday how much can be lost in a crash. Tomorrow, why not lose the Maglia Rosa? It looks like a good stage for the breakaway to succeed.”

Landa apologizes to Yates after angry comment

Movistar GC leader Mikel Landa apologized to Mitchelton-Scott GC leader Simon Yates after expressing some angry words to Spanish newspaper AS following Tuesday’s Stage 4, which resulted in two almost simultaneous pileups with 6km remaining.

The Basque rider cursed Yates, calling him “an idiot” for “going crazy” into a roundabout and then crashing, taking Landa down as well. Yates lost 16 seconds on the stage, while Landa, who required a bike change, lost 42 seconds. Landa apologized a few hours later on Twitter, writing, “I’d like to apologize to all the fans and particularly to Simon Yates because of words that were taken out of context.”

Yates replied on Twitter, “No worries, I understand what it’s like to say something in the heat of the moment.”

Landa now sits 1:49 down on GC leader Primoz Roglic. At the start of Stage 5, he told Cycling Weekly that he was sorry for what he had said, adding, “Yates slid, I was right behind him and I crashed too, but it was nothing. It wasn’t his fault, not that he was going crazy [on the bike].”

Fabio Jakobsen wins stage 4 of the Tour of California

Deceuninck-QuickStep has three stage wins in as many days at the Amgen Tour of California after Fabio Jakobsen won a bunch sprint into Morro Bay on Wednesday’s crash-marred stage 4. The 22-year-old Dutchman outkicked Jasper Philipsen (UAE-Team Emirates) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) to claim his fourth win of the year.

Race leader Tejay Van Garderen (EF-Education First) had a terrible end to the stage, crashing with 8.5km to go, overshooting a corner during the chase back to the bunch, and then being caught up behind another crash. In the end the former winner was forced to surrendered his yellow jersey after finishing nearly a minute behind Jakobsen.

UPDATE: The race jury has ruled that the crash that held Van Garderen up happened inside 3km to go, giving all riders the same time. Van Garderen maintains his GC leadStage 2 winner Kasper Asgreen now leads the race overall ahead of Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) and Max Scachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe). Three stages remain, not least Friday’s queen stage which finishes atop the challenging Mt. Baldy climb.


Following Tuesday’s 235km stage at the Giro d’Italia, Belgian rider Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) posted a funny video of a pro rider crawling on his hands and knees, with the caption, “How you get to your room after a 235km stage.”


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