Garmin-Sharp down a strong climber in defense of GC lead
On the eve of the second mountain finish at the Tour de San Luis, race leader Phil Gaimon (Garmin-Sharp) lost the support of a strong climber in teammate Janier Acevedo who abandoned stage three due to illness.
"His stomach is really bad and he has a fever with chills," said Garmin-Sharp team director Chann McRae. While Acevedo showed in his Tour of California stage win last year that he can endure crippling heat, coupled with an illness the combination proved too much to overcome. Nonetheless, Acevedo had been dropping back for bottles on multiple occasions in support of his teammates.
Acevedo hasn't been the only rider who's experienced health issues in San Luis thus far. BMC's Taylor Phinney and Dominik Nerz started a bit under the weather dealing with the effects of a stomach bug while Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) have had similar issues, too.
While those four riders have managed to persevere, Omega Pharma-QuickStep lost a key member of their lead-out train in Alessandro Petacchi who started the race with an intestinal virus and withdrew early on the opening stage.
Every rider becomes much more critical in a race where teams field six-man squads, and Gaimon now must face three more road stages - two with mountain finishes - with four teammates: Tom Danielson, Tyler Farrar, Ben King and Nate Brown. Nonetheless, McRae believes his team is up to the task.
"Losing Janier is unfortunate but we have a strong team of climbers here," said McRae.
Conventional wisdom at the start of the eighth edition of the Tour de San Luis was that Garmin-Sharp would vie for overall victory via either Danielson or Acevedo, the 28-year-old Colombian making his much-anticipated debut for a WorldTour team, but another WorldTour debutant in Phil Gaimon turned the race on its head on the first stage with a stage victory from a near race-long breakaway.
All of the pre-race favourites in a peloton chock full of WorldTour talent, such as Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Quintana and Rodriguez, conceded 4:35 to Gaimon and only gained a handful of seconds back on the first summit finish on Tuesday to Mirador del Potrero.
McRae told Cyclingnews on the eve of the Tour de San Luis that "We definitely don't want to go away from here without either Janier or Tommy D on the podium," but instead it's WorldTour rookie Phil Gaimon who is filling that role for Garmin-Sharp.