Italians Stefano Pirazzi and Nicola Ruffoni were thrown out of the 100th Giro d'Italia on Thursday after the International Cycling Union (UCI) confirmed both had tested positive for a derivative of banned growth hormones.
Pirazzi and Ruffoni both ride for the all-Italian Bardiani team. They face being "immediately sacked", according to organisers, hours after a glitzy pre-race presentation on the seafront at Alghero in Sardinia.
The Giro d'Italia, whose prize is the pink jersey, starts in Alghero on Friday and ends in Milan on May 28.
In accordance with UCI rules, both riders are now suspended facing further investigation. They tested positive during out-of-competition controls on April 25 and 26 respectively.
Pirazzi, 30, won the best climber's competition at the Giro in 2013 and won a stage to Vittorio Veneto in 2014.
Ruffoni, 26, is in his fourth year as a professional.
© 2017 AFP