Is Philippe Gilbert the cause of all BMC’s woes this season? Did Cadel Evans bring back some super virus from his adoption trip to Africa?
Call us loco but given the relentless sickness that befell the big budget super team of Andy Rhys, it’s hard not to engage in some “I’m not a doctor but …” speculation about a virus that essentially wiped out the entire classics season for Hushovd and Gilbert and derailed Evan’s hope of repeating as Tour of France champion.
The chronology, part one.
Gilbert contracted a virus during Tirreno-Adriatico which forced him out of the race. Then teammate and fellow classics star Thord Hushovd contracted Gilbert’s virus, went into fever mode, lost power and missed Milan-San Remo, Flanders and his beloved Paris-Roubaix.
Hushovd never recovered and his season became one long list of cancellations — the Tour de France and Olympics being the latest crushing disappointments. As Cyclingnews reported, it was the same bug that Gilbert had and given that they’re teammates, there’s a good chance it was the Belgian who passed it on.
The fact is, Hushovd has been to a number of specialists in several countries trying to pin down the virus, adjust the antibiotics and get back to enough heath to race a road bike. His coach said in July it was mononucleosis or “something similar.” His return isn’t happening anytime soon and it’s a 50-50 bet whether Hushovd manages to pull together enough form for the final races of the year. Best guess: an entire season whipped out by Gilbert’s bug.
Setting aside Hushovd’s and Gilbert’s own woes, Twisted Spoke has to wonder if Gilbert’s virus is also the cause of the underwhelming performances and Tour de France disappointment of last year’s winner Cadel Evans.
At the end of Le Grand Shindig, Evans alluded to various “health issues” that prevented him from reaching the same level of form he had at last year’s Tour. He keep it vague but it was clear from his statement that this issue — or issues — had been on-going.
Cadel’s explanation takes us back to the original Gilbert bug and the difficulties of eradicating the mysterious virus. Hushovd is still trying to solve the problem and perhaps that’s also the case for Evans.
Today, Evans announced that after playing a support role for his Australian team in the Olympic Road race he had decided he was too “fatigued” to even ride the time trial in an event that only comes along every four years. The word fatigue is an echo of Hushovd’s season-long condition.
Chronology, part two.
But maybe it isn’t actually Gilbert who is the source of the disastrous medical problems at BMC. Perhaps the finger should point to Cadel Evans.
Post Tour, Evans admitted he’d been dealing with health problems since January and February. That predates Gilbert’s Tirreno-Adriatico virus in early March. This isn’t one of those “medical examiner” TV shows but it does raise the question whether it was Evans who started the epidemic at BMC.
A quick bit of research turns up that Evans and his wife Chiara went to Ethiopia in mid December as part of their adoption process to bring home their new son. A month later we learn he was suffering from health problems. Gilbert off the hook?
A trip to Ethiopia certainly qualifies as a health risk for a professional cyclist. The required immunizations are for Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, meningitis and rabies. After that, the list of diseases gets more colorful and scary: dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, river blindness, African sleeping sickness, plague and avian influenza. In other words, your immune system better be hors categorie fantastic. (Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee so that does balance out the plus and minus — excellent coffee, baby boy, mysterious virus.
This is all conjecture on our part but when you look at the date for Evan’s Ethiopian trip, his subsequent health problems which began a month later and the difficulties Thor Hushovd has had identifying and killing off the virus, you can’t help but speculate.
Did BMC Racing’s disappointing season begin in Ethiopia in December?