Top ProTour squad T-Mobile made an unexpectedly low-key start to the Classics season at Het Volk and Kuurne - but it was partly due to several of their top riders all being under the weather from sickness.
Classics specialist Andreas Klier, former Paris-Roubaix winner Servais Knaven, sprinter Bernard Eisel and Britain?s Roger Hammond were all hit by either a flu? bug, an upset stomach or an unpleasant combination of both over the weekend.
After riding Het Volk, Klier came down overnight with stomach problems and quit after 15 kilometres at Kuurne, Knaven was forced to pack from Het Volk after 130 kilometres with similar troubles, and Eisel started Kuurne but then crashed and quit, as his ?flu worsened.
Hammond, who finished both races, added that his stomach problems had ?pulled down my form a bit, made it harder to hit top gear.?
?Your immune system?s a bit messed up with hard training and then you?re more vulnerable to illnesses. But we?re not alone, even [Kuurne winner Tom] Boonen was down with a bad cold earlier this week.?
?These are the typical illnesses and bugs that a lot of riders get at the start of the season.? T-Mobile directeur sportif Tristan Hoffman told CW?s website. ?Very easy to catch, even from something as simple as shaking hands.?
?With the benefit of hindsight, we probably shouldn?t have let Eisel start, but sometimes these things do clear up faster than you expect.?
?Given the circumstances we didn?t have that bad a weekend, but it?s clear that we didn?t race as well as we could have because of these problems.?
More riders have also been affected by illness recently in T-Mobile. Young British pro. Mark Cavendish was forced to spend a week in bed getting over a bug similar to the one his team-mates were affected by. ?Mark?s was more serious though.? Hoffman added.
Cavendish was forced to miss one of his programmed races, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne as a result. His scheduled participation in the Three Days of West Flanders this week remains very doubtful.
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.
Going virtual: An 'outdoor' cyclist tries Zwift and indoor riding for the first time
After holding out against it for years, one Cycling Weekly writer finally braves the world of online cycling, with mixed results
By Adam Becket • Published
How I dropped the weight and won a Tour de France time trial
Our new Lifetime Achievement award winner reveals how a move to Nice in the south of France helped lift his career to the next level
By James Shrubsall • Published