Great Lastras, superb Intxausti and colossal Bruseghin, three only survivors from a stomach virus that takes Pardilla, López and Konovalovas out of the race, leaves Erviti and Madrazo short of energy
Used to react with strength against all adversities during a very disgraced season when it comes to non-sportive matters, the riders from Movistar Team made another show of bravery during the seventeenth racing day of the 2011 Vuelta a España, ending in the climb of Peña Cabarga, where the telephone squad suffered a true nightmare from the starting flag. A stomach virus, with vomit and diarrhea, affected most of the squad -riders and staff- this morning, with Ignatas Konovalovas and David López being the most affected members from the early morning, unable to eat any food at breakfast. Already into the race and despite their efforts, the Lithuanian and the Basque had no option but to step off the race during the first part of the route, with the same result for the squad’s leader Sergio Pardilla. The rider from Membrilla, 13th overall and ready to take advantage from his climbing abilities into the final mountain-top finish in the race, left the Vuelta a España devastated after becoming one of the most consistent riders in the race in only his second GT. Along with Pardilla, Imanol Erviti and Ángel Madrazo got dropped with 100k to go, the duo being fortunately able to finish the stage with almost 30 minutes lost on the day’s winner, Chris Froome (SKY), who beat red jersey Juanjo Cobo (GEO).
The only three riders from Movistar Team not affected by the virus –Pablo Lastras, Marzio Bruseghin and Beñat Intxausti- made the best to save their teammates’ honour. Lastras, who was part of the 20-rider break that led for the opening 80k of the stage, later attempted to escape into the downhill of the Cat. 2 Portillo de Lunada, 50k from the finish, where Bruseghin had opened hostilities into the GC group with a strong attack that made him power his way on front all climb. The Italian did not get content after that and tried a late attempt into the final ascent with 5k to go, eventually being caught just 2k from the line and holding with his last forces to a 7th place in the top of Peña Cabarga, three places ahead of a recovered Intxausti, who completed the top-ten places for the stage. After his superb stage, Bruseghin is now 16th overall in the Vuelta, where Movistar Team will stay, for the time being and awaiting for the virus’s effects, with only five riders on course. Pardilla, López are Konovalovas are being moved right now to the Hospital de Valdecilla so as to undergo different analysis that reveal the causes of the poisoning.
Jesús Hoyos (doctor): “Until the moment that we don’t get the analysis in our hands, we won’t be able to say what’s this all exactly about. Since this morning, some riders and some team staff members suffer from gastroenteritis likely due to food poisoning. Some of them were feeling bad already since early in the morning, while others like Madrazo started feeling wrong during the stage, though in these virus, the incubation terms may vary, and it might not affect everyone. The sympthoms are similar: vomit, diarrhea, severe headache… We will make some checks this very evening to try and find out more.”
Eusebio Unzué (general manager): “It seems like we got used to disgraces being a motivating factor for the team, but I’m really proud of the behaviour by lads today in order to overcome such a hard situation as seeing half the team giving up. The three who got away from the gastroenteritis had an expectational performances, and not worse did Erviti and Madrazo, who were able to finish despite their bad status. It’s going to be difficult, but we’ll try to get them recovered by tomorrow. It’s another piece of misfortune in such a complicated season.”