Greg Van Avermaet has decided to wait to receive his booster vaccine until after the Spring Classics, which begin with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 26 and end with Liège–Bastogne–Liège on Sunday 24 April.
Speaking at AG2R-Citroën's media day at their training camp in Denia, Spain, Van Avermaet said he struggled in the second half of 2021 after receiving his second vaccine, and will therefore wait until the Classics are over before getting the booster jab.
“Especially in the second half of the season things didn't go the way I wanted. I blame it on my vaccination.
"Since then I no longer race at a level. You really have to time that and I did it just before the Dauphiné, after a hard training period and just before a hard race. That was not a good idea. I have not cycled at a level after that.
"Normally I'm always good for a place in the top ten or participate in the finals, now I even had a hard time in the grupetto in the Tour de France. I wanted to stop myself, but the team wanted me to continue, including for our classification man Ben O'Connor and I did, but then you wear your body further."
While Van Avermaet still intends to get the booster, he highlights his post-season tests blood values weren't at the same levels as tests in the autumn showed.
However, there is no definitive evidence available to prove that the vaccine is the reason for this lower value.
The World Health Organisation also suggests "more serious or long-lasting side effects to COVID-19 vaccines are possible but extremely rare."
Indeed, the Covid vaccine response from the 'Whoop Year in Review' reports levels return to baseline by the fourth night following the vaccine.
Stats from the report revealed: "Differences in physiological data were recorded after taking the Covid-19 vaccine, with resting heart rate and respiratory rate elevated the first night following vaccination, returning to baseline by the fourth night. Deviations in resting heart rate and respiratory rate were larger for females than males and larger in younger members than older members."
On side effects, WHO states: "Experiencing side effects after getting vaccinated means the vaccine is working and your immune system is responding as it should.
"Vaccines are safe, and getting vaccinated will help protect you against Covid-19," it adds.
The Belgian rider, who finished third in the Tour of Flanders last season, will still wait until after the Classics for the booster as a precaution though.
"I think you have to time that jab very well. I didn't do that last time and I don't want to make the same mistake."
Van Avermaet contracted Covid in November just before he would have resumed training, following a rest period after the end of the season. With positive infections in the French team though, the 36-year-old is confident the necessary precautions have been taken and he isn't too concerned with the results.
"Those four staff members have now gone home, we continue to train here and that is a good thing, because you need a camp like this towards the start of the season.”
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