Philippe Gilbert is not only off to a slow start at his new BMC Racing squad, he’s also slowing down the other high-priced classics star Thor Hushovd.
According to reports, the Norwegian caught Gilbert’s cold and fever at Tirreno-Adriatico, which subsequently knocked him out of participating in Milan San Remo and now the Volta a Catalunya.
It wasn’t a clash of egos at the team but a clash of germs, bacteria and antibiotics. BMC now stands for Bad Medical Condition.
This has forced Hushovd to change his race program at the last minute. Instead of Catalunya, he’ll be riding the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke on Friday and Gent -Wevelgem on Sunday.
“It is of course undesirable to change the race program so late,” said Hushovd’s personal coach Atle Kvålsvoll admitted. “We would rather have done without this illness. Obviously this is not very favorable.”
The former world champion has refused to room with Gilbert and now wears a surgical mask whenever the Belgian star is nearby. According to a source close to BMC, Hushovd has also been spraying a medical disinfectant on everything Gilbert touches.
“Gilbert is kind of a slob and he never covers his mouth when he coughs,” said team mechanic Rolf Flemthraut. “Plus, he is always spitting and that is unsightly and not hygienic.”
Only Big George Hincapie, at 38 years of age, seems to have escaped the illness and injury that have beset the super team. They’re not only looking for better form but improved health.
According to Kvålsvoll, there’s still a good chance for Hushovd to win his first Paris-Roubaix, the cobbled classic that Garmin boss Jonathan Vaughters and teammate Johan Van Summeren stole from him last year. “If he trains well, gets through the races in Belgium and has another week of good training, he should still be well prepared. We’ll see when we come to Flanders.”
Until then Hushovd is taking extra measures to remain healthy and that includes making sure Gilbert isn’t anywhere near him.