It’s not often you see a team go 1-2-3 in a major race, but it’s happened in the past. In 1994, there was an extremely impressive show by the Gewiss-Ballan squad at Fleche-Wallone. In that race, team leader Moreno Argentin took the victory. The win was even more impressive as the team dominated the race by taking all podium places at the race.
Argentin’s teammates, Italian Giorgio Furlan and Evgeni Berzin would finish second and third, head of some of the best in cycling at the time including Claudio Chiappucci, Franco Ballerini, Gianni Bugno and Lance Armstrong. Later, as is widely known, it was discovered that there was systematic doping that occurred with the team.
The team doctor at the time, the infamous Michele Ferrari, along with Professor Francesco Conconi is said to have introduced Erythropoietin or EPO to the sport of cycling. That wouldn’t be the last team that was later found to be doping would sweep the podium, as Mapei would do the same in 1996 at Paris-Roubaix.
26 years ago today, cycling changed forever. Berzin, Furlan, and Argentin of the Gewiss team humiliated all other riders in the peloton, and won the @flechewallonne, riding on EPO. Among the defeated “Poursuivants”: @johanmuseeuw, Boogerd, VDB, Rebellin and @lancearmstrong. pic.twitter.com/ToW2X9rcOY
— Peter Vanham (@petervanham) April 22, 2020
Many would later attribute the dominance of the riders to the blood booster that increased their red blood cell count, or hematocrit. Below, you can see the increase the riders had from December 1994, to May 1995.
Vladislav Bobrik (RUS) 42.7 to 53.0 Increase 9.3 (28 per cent)
Bruno Cenghialta (ITA) 37.2 to 54.5 Increase 17.3 (47 per cent)
Giorgio Furlan (ITA) 38.8 to 51.0 Increase 12.2 (31 per cent)
Nicola Minali (ITA) 41.7 to 54.0 Increase 12.3 (29 per cent)
Piotr Ugrumov (LAT) 32.8 to 60.0 Increase 27.2 (83 per cent)
Alberto Volpi (ITA) 38.5 to 52.6 Increase 14.1 (37 per cent)
Evgeni Berzin (RUS) 41.7 to 53.0 Increase 11.3 (27 per cent)
Bjarne Riis (DEN) 41.1 to 56.3 Increase 15.2 (37 per cent)