RODEZ, France – There’s a stomach bug taking a toll on the Paris-Nice peloton, but Tejay van Garderen says he’s holding tough despite BMC teammate Taylor Phinney abandoning Wednesday and Thor Hushovd struggling to hang on.
Van Garderen told VeloNews that he’s still in top shape going into Thursday’s decisive stage with the mountaintop finish at Mende.
“It took down Phinney, I am feeling fine,” van Garderen said. “It seems like something is going around in the bunch. A couple of RadioShack guys are sick and Thor (Hushovd) is feeling a bit queazy in the stomach, I’ve been able to avoid it.”
Van Garderen said the team does what it can to avoid health problems for the riders, but sometimes there’s not much anyone can do.
“Luckily, we take precautions, bring our chef to make sure that we limit the contamination, but sometimes you cannot always control everything,” he said.
Phinney, meanwhile, said he got zapped overnight and was in no condition to race when he woke up Wednesday morning for the start in Brive-la-Gaillarde.
“There’s a stomach virus going around in the race. Last night, I woke up in middle of the night. I was really sick, vomiting and nasty stuff. This morning I was drained, really empty,” Phinney told BMC’s press officer. “I was planning on trying to start and see how I felt. The doctor and the staff, especially Rik (Verbrugghe) saw that I wasn’t in the right state to race and decided it was better for me to take it easy and recover from this. For me, it’s disappointing, but sickness is part of life.”
Phinney is still planning on starting his next scheduled race at Gent-Wevelgem on March 25.
In his first Paris-Nice, Phinney was key to van Garderen’s current third-place position in the general classification. The second-year pro shepherded van Garderen into the elite group of 21 riders late in stage 2, and the pair gained more than two minutes on the first chase group.
A wave of gastroenteritis has forced several riders in the peloton at Paris-Nice to abandon the race prior to stage 4 on Wednesday morning. RadioShack-Nissan teammates Jan Bakelants and Joost Posthuma have left the race the day after RadioShack’s Andy Schleck abandoned with the ailment.
According to Het Nieuwsblad, Lotto-Belisol riders Adam Hansen and Olivier Kaisen — who spent much of stage 2 in a solo breakaway — have also abandoned with illness.
Gastroenteritis, the common stomach bug, is an inflammation of the stomach or small intestine, with symptoms like cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. The virus may be transmitted through improperly prepared foods, contaminated water or close contact with infected persons.