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Why has cycling had such a big problem with illnesses this spring?

Why has cycling had such a big problem with illnesses this spring?

Is it just the seasonal flu and Covid, or is something else going on? The recurring story of the first few months of the cycling…

Saturday, Apr 16

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Is it just the seasonal flu and Covid, or is something else going on?

The recurring story of the first few months of the cycling season that is not going away is the continued absence of riders owing to illnesses that are decimating teams and keeping riders bed-bound.

But why?

While it is generally accepted that late winter and early spring are when viruses are more prevalent in society, it is hard to recall a February, March and April that has had such a cleansing effect on both the men’s and women’s peloton.

Paris-Nice was the first big race to be severely affected, just 59 riders finishing, while at the recent Tour of the Basque Country, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matêriaux didn’t field a single rider on the final stage due to an illness that had torn through their camp.

Many of the men’s WorldTour teams estimate that more than two-thirds of their rosters have been beset by illnesses and viruses so far this season, with others suggesting that upwards of 90 percent of the male peloton have been affected by either the seasonal influenza, Covid-19, bronchitis or another type of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). There have been also a number of cases of gastro-intestinal problems, with Ineos Grenadiers’ Tom Pidcock one notable sufferer earlier this spring.

Dr. Christopher Edler, head of medical operations at Bora-Hansgrohe, told Cycling Weekly that the current period is a "really challenging situation" and that "illnesses have kept us very busy in the beginning of the season."He explained that while […]

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