Stomach bug forces Lance Armstrong out of Circuit de Sarthe

Team RadioShack pick up unwelcome souvenir in Flanders - not known whether frites and beer to blame

by Simon_MacMichael   April 7, 2010  

Lance Armstrong @ Santos TDU 2010 (Photosport International)

Team RadioShack have announced that Lance Armstrong has been forced to pull out of today’s Stage 2 of the four-day Circuit de Sarthe in France after coming down with gastroenteritis after the end of the opening stage yesterday. It added that the Texan will return to the United States “as soon as his condition allows.”

According to Team RadioShack press release, “many riders from different teams caught the virus last week in Flanders.” The sick list included five of its own riders –Geoffroy Lequatre, Dmitriy Muravyev, Gregory Rast and Sébastien Rosseler – who presumably jopined Armstrong in forming an orderly queue for the team hotel’s washroom, as well as Team Manager Johan Bruyneel and one of its soigneurs.

Team Director Alain Gallopin – who does not appear to have been struck by the virus, presumably to the dismay of cycling headline writers across the English-speaking world - said “this is not the right moment, but it is never a good moment."

He continued, “though we have only four riders left in this race, we will try to win a stage. Tiago Machado and Yaroslav Popovych are in good shape. Let's hope Popo will not get sick. He too was in Flanders last week.”

Gallopin added: “As far as Lance Armstrong is concerned, maybe we will have to change his program again. That's work for the coming days. Lance was really keen on performing well, especially in the time trial of Wednesday afternoon. He showed his growing condition in the Tour of Flanders, where he came in with the first group sprinting for the fifth place.”

Armstrong finished yesterday’s stage 24th out of 89 riders behind winner Luis Leon Sanchez of Caisse d’Epargne, and was one of two cyclists randomly selected for a drug test, which gave him a no doubt welcome chance to renew acquaintance with the French antidoping personnel who have regularly tested him over the years.

On his Twitter feed, there was little hint of the trouble brewing in the 38-year-old’s stomach. “St(age) 1 of Sarthe done. Fast stage. Took 120 km before breakaway finally went," Armstrong wrote. "Nuts. Good racing tho."

He subsequently tweeted that six of his eight co-riders in the Tour of Flanders were "down and out (with) a stomach bug," later adding that he himself was “sicker than a dog now. This sucks."

It’s the second time inside a month that gastroenteritis has kept disrupted Armstrong’s race plans; in March, the seven-times Tour de France winner pulled out of Milan-San Remo after succumbing to the condition.