By Benjamin Fitzmaurice
Australian sprinter Aaron Kemps (Rock Racing) has withdrawn from the upcoming Amgen Tour of California after being treated for a hernia this week.
Surgeons in his hometown of Bundaberg, Australia, operated on Kemps on Wednesday and he is expected to fully recover. That recovery, however, will not come in time for Kemps to toe the line at the California tour, which is scheduled to begin February 14.
Kemps most recently competed as a member of the Australian National team, Uni SA, at this year’s Tour Down Under. Kemps said he’d been suffering discomfort for more than a year and was recently diagnosed with a hernia near his scrotum.
“Apparently this type of hernia is becoming more common amongst young people,” he told VeloNews. “I was suffering from pain whilst on my feet and after long exertions in the saddle I was having trouble lying on my stomach. I could not sleep on my stomach and I was not recovering as well as I expected. For the past 18 months I have not been feeling quite right on the bike.”
Kemps said he really started to notice a problem during the second stage of the Tour Down Under when he joined Cofidis’ Guillaume Blot and Euskaltel-Euskadi rider, Markel Irizar, in a break at the 6kmmark. The escapees were caught with only 15 miles to go and the exertion caused the hernia to swell. After the stage Kemps knew something was wrong.
Whilst Kemps felt a little embarrassed due to the location of the hernia he knew that he had to get checked out.
“It was like having a third testicle,” he said. “I instantly thought about what happened to Lance [Armstrong] and knew that I had to get it checked out.”
Kemps was scheduled to attend a training camp with Rock Racing prior to the Tour of California, but doctors advised him that it will take between four and six weeks to fully recover.
“I am really disappointed not to be at the training camp,” he said. “I was really looking forward to catching up with the team. For the first week I literally cannot do anything and in a couple of weeks I can do 1 to 2 hours on the bike with only hard training at the 4 to 6 week mark.”
A replacement for Kemps has not been named by Rock Racing directeur sportif, Rudy Pevenage. Kemps says he has maintained constant contact with the team.
“I have received a lot of support from the team,” Kemps said. “It has been great. Rudy will pick the strongest of the riders from the training camp to join the team at the Tour of California.”
Kemps will head back to his European base in San Sebastian at the end of February and plans to resume racing at the Vuelta a Castilla