When Orica-Scott hit the front with 1.5km to go in yesterday’s Tirreno-Adriatico stage, you might not have thought much of it, but this was a team trying to rescue something from a race that has seen them enter the final day with only three riders.
Like every other team in the race, Orica-Scott started with eight riders, but have steadily seen their numbers fall as the race has gone on.
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The first two to bite the dust were Roger Kluge and Caleb Ewan on stage two, with Kluge suffering from a fever, while Ewan was caught up in a crash.
Better luck ensued in the following few stages, with Adam Yates climbing well on the queen stage to finish third behind Nairo Quintana and Geraint Thomas, before abandoning the following day due to stomach problems and a fever.
Watch: Secrets of the Toolbox – Orica-Greenedge
The bug then seemed to spread to other members of the team, with Roman Kreuziger not starting stage six, and Luke Durbridge abandoning midway through the stage, to leave the team with three survivors for today’s final time trial.
Directeur sportif Matt White saw the silver lining to the cloud that has decimated the team over the last few days.
“It is what it is and we have to be thankful that we are not losing riders to serious injury,” White said after stage six. “It’s only a virus and one that will hopefully pass really quickly.”
This isn’t the first time that the Australian team has found itself seriously short-handed, with only two brave riders making it to the end of the 2014 Giro d’Italia.
What’s more one of those Giro veterans was Michael Hepburn, who has also used his survival instincts to steer clear of illness over the course of this race.