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Surprise 'mega' doping controls at the Volta a Portugal

The peloton may be in Portugal but those are Australian gums

The peloton may be in Portugal but those are Australian gums (Image credit: Tim de Waele/

A surprise anti-doping 'mega operation' was carried out at the Volta a Portugal Sunday morning, before the race's Queen Stage. A total of 41 riders, comprising of six the nine Portuguese teams in the race, were asked to provide urine and blood samples.

The six teams controlled are RP-Boavista, Sporting-Tavira, W52-FC Porto, Aviveludo-Louletano, Efapel and Vito-Feirense-Blackjack. first reported the operation, calling it "unprecedented action in this competition." Other reports indicated that the testing was targeted, based on the bio-passports.

The race has a history of doping problems. Most recently two South American riders tested positive for EPO-CERA at the race in 2016.

Race officials are also struggling with the unprecedented heat wave sweeping over Europe, with race temperatures climbing up to an estimated 50°C. Several riders have already abandoned due to heat stroke, and fire departments along the route are spraying the riders with water.

Today's queen stage has been shortened 27km due to the high temperatures. The UCI's Extreme Weather Protocol does not apply to 2.1 races.

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