Riccardo Ricco

Riccardo Riccò becomes the third rider to fail a test for EPO in the tour. I've previously posted about Moises Duenas and Manuel Beltran. Saunier Duval Website

His (update: currently broken) team webpage still boasts that the team has yellow numbers for stage 11 (best team) and that Riccò kept his best young rider and King of the Mountains jerseys.

Riccò has held the white jersey (young rider) for four of the eleven stages so far (stages 1, 2, 10, 11). He has been holding the polka dot (king of the mountains) jersey for stages 10 and 11.

L'equipe article:

Les urines de Riccardo Ricco présentent des traces d'EPO Révélée par L'Equipe ce jeudi, l'information a été confirmée par l'Agence française de lutte contre le dopage (AFLD), qui avait ciblé le grimpeur italien depuis les prélèvements sanguins effectués les 3 et 4 juillet. Vainqueur à deux reprises en montagne cette année et neuvième du général après onze étapes, il a utilisé la CERA (Continuous Erythropietin Receptor Activator), une EPO retard, de troisième génération, récemment mise sur le marché.

The urine of Riccardo Riccò showed traces of EPO as reported by L'Equipe on Thurday, the information was confirmed by the French Agency for the fight against doping, which had targeted the climber Italian from blood samples carried out on the 3rd and 4th of July. He was the winner twice in the mountains this year and ninth in the race for the yellow jersey after elevent stages. He used CERA, an EPO derivative, the third generation recently placed on the market.

What EPO and its derivatives like CERA do is increase production of haemoglobin in the bloodstream, and hence improve the distribution of oxygen in the body. For a cyclist on the Tour I'm told that this can give a performance boost of around 10-15%, turning an average grimpeur (climber) into a first class one. It is used where people have had renal failures, heart problems, cancers and the like.

Such a pity.