Third division cyclist, Iranian Mirsamad Pourseyedigolakhour (Tabriz Petrochemical) won ahead of first and second division team cyclists in Genting Highlands today and raised eyebrows. With six flat stages left in Malaysia’s Tour de Langkawi, he looks ready to take the overall title as he did the Tour of Qinghai Lake in July.
What worries some followers, however, is that he already tested positive for EPO use once and that he flies below the biological passport’s radar.
“This is not our problem, this is the UCI’s problem,” Pourseyedigolakhour told Cycling Weekly. “This is an UCI-Asia problem. I won Qinghai Lake. Every day, I was tested. People can speak, say what they want.”
Pourseyedigolakhour, 28, cut though the clouds 1600 metres above Kuala Lumpur to win the race’s queen stage. Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhubeka) and Isaac Bolivar (United Healthcare) – both from second division teams – placed second and third. Jhoan Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) and Petr Ignatenko (Katusha) – first division teams – finished in third and fourth.
The UCI’s biological passport that detects doping by looking for abnormal blood and urine levels only covers first and second division teams. As one onlooker said, “It’s like an open bar for third division teams. They can take what they want.”
The comment holds weight as local third division rider Mustafa Sayar conquered the Tour of Turkey last spring ahead of first and second division teams. He tested positive for EPO use two months later and lost the title. Testers caught Pourseyedigolakhour for EPO use at the 2011 Tour of Iran. He returned from his suspension and immediately won the 2013 Tour of Qinghai Lake.
“I know about Turkey but we worked hard to be here,” said Pourseyedigolakhour. “We were training at altitude in the cold and went to the south for a three-week camp before this.”
Pourseyedigolakhour’s Tabriz Petrochemical team comes from the country’s north. Tabriz, the fourth largest Iran city, sits in the country’s north at 1351 metres. This winter, the snow and ice forced the team to spin on trainers and workout in the weight room. To prepare for Langkawi, a ten-day race in Malaysia’s west, they travelled 1600 kilometres Iran’s south to Bushehr where the weather is 15°C.
“I won Qinghai Lake last year. I didn’t think I could win [Langkawi], I thought I’d be difficult, but my DS kept telling me to try. I attacked, I made the group,” said Pourseyedigolakhour.
“It was hard to go with the MTN rider. He attacked. In the last three kilometres, he attacked again. The group couldn’t catch him. My DS told me just to follow the MTN rider because he knew saw that he was riding and spinning well. In the last few metres, I attacked for the win.”
Pourseyedigolakhour leads by eight seconds over Kudus and 11 over Bolivar. The overall looks to stay the same barring an escape.