Vuelta a Espana

Team Sky racked by mystery illness at the Vuelta a Espana

Team Sky loses two riders to illness on stage 3, and other riders and staff are struggling with similar symptoms.

Team Sky is wracked by a mysterious illness that’s sweeping through the British team early in the 2010 Vuelta a España.

Two riders — John-Lee Augustyn and Ben Swift — abandoned the third stage due to illness, likely some sort of food poisoning. Simon Gerrans, Peter Kennough and Thomas Lofkvist are also not feeling well.

“The entire team is sick but we don’t know what’s causing it,” said Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford. “In the middle of last night, Ben Swift, John-Lee Augustyn, Simon Gerrans and Peter Kennaugh have been badly sick. They threw up. Swift pulled out even before the start proper and Augustyn did the same a few kilometers further. I still wonder how Gerrans and Kennaugh have managed to reach the finish because they are in a pretty bad shape. The whole staff is sick and we don’t know yet whether it’s a virus or food poisoning. The next two days will be really difficult.”

The team reported on its Web site that Augustyn was forced to abandon the race early on in the 157.3-kilometer route, a brutal setback after what had been a tough season for the 24-year-old South African.

A few hours after exiting the race, his tweet summed up his feelings: “Man down. Got really bad food poisoning or something…was forced to abandon…Big disappointment.”

The sudden onset of the sickness was underlined by Swift’s withdrawal around 100 kilometers into Monday’s stage; less than 24 hours earlier he had sprinted into seventh place on stage 2 and remarked on how good he was feeling.