A dark day at the Giro d’Italia saw Tom Dumoulin, one of the race favourites, abandon due to injuries sustained in a heavy crash on Tuesday, while Bahrain-Merida rider Kristijan Koren was pulled by his team after being named by Austrian police in connection with a doping probe.
Koren, a Slovenian, was one of four riders provisionally suspended by the UCI yesterday after they were named in connection with Operation Aderlass, a probe which originally centred around Nordic skiing.
Koren, who joined Bahrain-Merida at the start of 2018 from Cannondale, had been riding the Giro in support of team leader Vincenzo Nibali.
The others named by the UCI were Kristijan Durasek (UAE Team Emirates), who was pulled from the Tour of California, Bahrain-Merida assistant sports director Borut Božič and retired Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi who is working as a commentator for Italian TV during the Giro. Petacchi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that he had never had a blood transfusion and did not know why his name had come up in the probe.
Koren, Petacchi and Bozic’s offences are all alleged to have taken place in 2012-2013, while Durasek’s alleged ADRV took place in 2017.
Bahrain-Merida released a statement, saying the team strictly advocated a "zero-tolerance doping policy" and had therefore provisionally suspended both Koren and Božič.
They added: "We would like to stress that both cases relate to the 2012 and/or 2013 seasons. The Team always carries out a thorough medical checks (including biological passport check) of any new signed rider. The Team will not comment this case until the formal proceedings are final and binding."
UAE Team Emirates, meanwhile, said they hoped Durasek could prove his innocence. "Should it be proven otherwise, he will be terminated immediately."
Meanwhile German rider Pascal Ackermann (Bora - Hansgrohe) sprinted to victory on stage five of the Giro, beating Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) in atrocious conditions in Terracina. But only after race commissaires decided to take final general classification times on the first passage of the finish line in an effort to make things safer.
Dumoulin [Sunweb] started the stage but abandoned almost straight away. His withdrawal deprives the race of a star but may mean the Dutchman is in better shape to take on Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas at the Tour de France later this summer.