The greatest concern surrounding the recent adverse analytical finding of little-known Italian cyclist Fabio Taborre is not that it is the second positive test from a rider hailing from the Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec team.

It is that the drug in question, FG-4592, is yet to hit the shelves.

"What's amazing to me is that it is out there for sale on the Internet," Don Catlin, an anti-doping scientist and founder the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory, the world's largest testing facility of performance-enhancing drugs, told the New York Times.

A week before the UCI notified Taborre, a 30-year-old seventh-year pro from Pescara, Chilean cyclist Carlos Oyarzun was sent home from this year's Pan American Games in Toronto, having tested positive for the same drug, which stimulates endogenous red blood cell production. Oyarzun has denied taking FG-4592; both cyclists have requested results of their B-sample.

"The UCI has confirmed retrospective testing for FG-4592 will be done on samples taken from this year's Tour de France."

"We are unable to comment on how an individual might gain access to FG-4592 outside of a clinical trial," Abigail Bozarth, a spokeswoman for AstraZeneca, one of at least three companies that sell the experimental drug - now in its final stage of testing - told the NYT.

However, a simple Google search reveals that FG-4592 - which, unlike EPO, is taken as a pill rather than injected intravenously and also requires refrigeration - can be bought over the Internet with relative ease. The only requirement is to have a note to say it will be used for research purposes, and the buyer must be a researcher.

In a class of substances known as 'hypoxia inducible factor stabilizers', FG-4592 is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which tests for it via urine samples.

Davide Appollonio was the other rider from Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec this calendar year to be found with performance-enhancing drugs in his system, returning a adverse analytical finding for EPO on June 30, and provisionally suspended. In accordance with new UCI rules - which, as of 1 January 2015, state that two potential anti-doping rule violations from the same team within a 12-month period provide grounds for a suspension of the team itself, between 15 and 45 days - the governing body's Disciplinary Commission last week suspended the Italian-registered Pro Continental team for 30 days, commencing August 1.

Until August 30, Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec is prohibited from entering any international competition. The team announced they would challenge the ruling (if the team is found not to be responsible, the suspension will be lifted) as well as file suit against Taborre and Appollonio, seeking compensation for damages.

The UCI has confirmed retrospective testing for FG-4592 will be done on samples taken from this year's Tour de France. "Samples collected at the Tour will be tested for FG-4592, and it will also be done in upcoming races," UCI spokesman Sébastien Gillot told the CyclingTips website.


Monday 3 Aug 2015

Marcel Kittel returned to racing with a bang Sunday, winning the opening stage of the Tour of Poland.

With the final breakaway coming back with around 10km to race, the German's Giant-Alpecin team rode according to plan, helping to set the stage for a bunch sprint. Coming into the tight right-hand corner in the final few hundred metres, Kittel was where he needed to be, before the 27-year-old finished the job off, beating Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Niccolo Bonifazio (Lampre-Merida).

"It's a very important win for me and it's too long since I last had this feeling." - Marcel Kittel

The win marks a successful return after his non-selection at the Tour de France due to a long period of illness and injury.

"We rode the final corner in the neutral and at first I thought it was going to be difficult, but after we passed through it a few times during the race I got a better feeling," Kittel said. "It was a tricky final so it was necessary to be in front with the whole team and we managed this in a good way. The boys were fighting hard for me and brought me into a good position, and although it wasn't easy to stay together, we didn't lose faith.

"It's a very important win for me and it's too long since I last had this feeling. I had to fight back and I am happy that I never gave up and can now be racing for victory again. It's a race I've been looking forward to, and with two more days of possible sprints we can look forward to racing hard."

"Our target was to be in front at the corner with two kilometres to go, as after this point the hill and corners would make it difficult to move up and be in control," explained coach Addy Engels. "This worked well and from here we took the lead. The guys stayed calm and in control to set up the lead-out, and Marcel was able to come to the front in the final corner to take the win.

Incensed after Greg Van Avermaet's collision with a race motorbike in the closing moments of Saturday's Clásica San Sebastián, BMC president and general manager Jim Ochowicz has issued a statement deriding the UCI's neglect in "providing a safe racing environment", adding the team intends to "explore every legal option available".

"Greg was robbed and the BMC Racing Team was robbed when this happened. I am appalled that this could occur in a WorldTour race," Ochowicz said.

On the final ascent of the Alto de Jaizkibel, Van Avermaet attack netted him a 15-second advantage over his chasers when the TV moto ran into him from behind, 600 metres from the top of the climb. "He ran right into the back of my bike. My frame was broken and my back wheel was broken. So the race was over for me. I don't know know what the moto driver was thinking. He did not say anything to me. Maybe he just gave it a little too much gas and ran into me," the 30-year-old Belgian said afterwards.

"This was not a sporting incident. This was caused by pure negligence, which cost the team millions of dollars in lost publicity." -  Jim Ochowicz, BMC president & general manager

Shortly after the crash, Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) attacked the peloton and held a slender advantage over the top of the Jaizkibel, which was enough to see the young Briton score his first WorldTour victory.

"The bad thing is that I think I could have won the race," Van Avermaet, who won Stage 15 of this year's Tour de France, said. "I had a big gap. Maybe (Adam) Yates could have come back, but I think I still could have been there in the sprint. It is not every year you can win a classic like San Sebastián. So this is really disappointing."

Said Ochowicz: "This is the second time this year we have had an incident with a local organizer of a WorldTour race where they have acted in a scandalous fashion. The UCI has been nowhere in this to resolve the problem. This comes back to safety issues in races where the local organizer of WorldTour events and the UCI are negligent in providing a safe racing environment.

"This was not a sporting incident. This was caused by pure negligence, which cost the team millions of dollars in lost publicity. Therefore, we plan to explore every legal option available to us."

In other news involving BMC Racing, their Luxembourg rider Jean-Pierre 'Jempy' Drucker infiltrated a late breakaway, helped chase down a potential solo winner, then held off a late charge in the sprint to win Sunday's Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic.

Drucker edged out Mike Teunissen (LottoNL-Jumbo) in the dash to the line on The Mall in London, with Ben Swift (Team Sky) third.

"I am a fast guy, so I was pretty confident," Drucker said after winning his first race of the season. "I looked a bit to Ben Swift because I knew he was a bit nervous. He wanted to do something. I tried to keep his wheel and focus on him."

Earlier, Drucker had worked hard to bring back Teunissen's teammate, Sep Vanmarcke, who attacked with 12km left in the 200km race. Vanmarcke had a 20-second lead with five kilometers to go, but was brought back with two kilometres left. Into the final few hundred meters, Drucker stuck to Swift's wheel, then made his move with an attack up the left side. Teunissen followed Drucker and tried to come around him, but the gap was too much to overcome.

"We had to try something because there were a lot of good sprinters in that breakaway," Teunissen said. "We did that, but it was not good enough, unfortunately. I tried to put Ben Swift and Drucker under pressure. Swift chased me two times and broke himself. I was close in the end and I think that I should have waited for the sprint. I'm fed up with that."

The victory was Drucker's first since he won the prologue of the 2010 Flèche du Sud.

Philippe Gilbert, runner-up at Saturday's Clasica San Sebastian and winner of a stage of the Tour de Wallonie last week, drove the pace up Box Hill, helped by Tour de France Stage 1 winner Rohan Dennis. Their attack drew out a small group that was reeled in, but with 35km to go, Drucker worked his way into an eight-man breakaway that proved to be the decisive move.

"We needed a hard race and Philippe really wanted to try on Box Hill," BMC Racing sports director Max Sciandri said. "It kind of broke up, but not enough. I think the pace was always high, but not on the ups and downs. Jempy ended up in a good move and was super strong and rode really smart."

And while we're on the topic of all things BMC, the team announced the return of Taylor Phinney and Peter Stetina at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, which runs today through to Sunday.

Phinney has been sidelined 62 weeks since fracturing his left leg and injuring his left knee on May 28 last year, in a crash at the 2014 national road championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Stetina has not raced since early April when he broke his right tibia and patella and five ribs in a crash near the finish of Stage 2 at Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of Basque Country).

Said team doctor Max Testa: "Taylor has been working very hard to get to where he is now and believes that he is ready to race. The team has no expectations of him. He will test his condition to see where his knee is and what kind of condition he has. From this race, he can gauge what the rest of the season may look like."

Stetina has also been working extremely hard in his recovery, according to Dr. Testa. "All of the doctors who have seen Peter cannot believe his determination. He did not want to miss this opportunity to return to racing in the U.S. The team will not put any pressure on him, either. He will have to take the race one stage at a time and see how he feels."

BMC Racing roster for Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (Aug 3-9)
Brent Bookwalter (USA), Kilian Frankiny (SUI), Taylor Phinney (USA), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Michael Schär (SUI), Manuel Senni (ITA), Peter Stetina (USA).