Lance Armstrong did not start the second stage of the Circuit Sarthe - Pays de la Loire on Wednesday morning after coming down with a viral intestinal infection following stage one. His RadioShack team said the Texan will return to the USA as soon as his condition allows.
On Tuesday RadioShack confirmed to Cyclingnews that Armstrong would not ride the Amstel Gold race on April 18 and return to the USA earlier than planned.
In a twitter message on Tuesday evening, Armstrong revealed that six of the eight riders from their Tour of Flanders squad “are down and out with a stomach bug. Hoping I'm lucky”. A few hours later he joined them. “Not so lucky, I guess. Sicker than a dog now. This sucks.”
On Wednesday morning he tweeted: "Well, I'm alive. Barely it feels like. That was the roughest stomach virus I've ever had. Tough night. Thx for all the support."
Riders affected include Geoffroy Lequatre, Dmitriy Muravyev, Gregory Rast and Sébastien Rosseler. Team Manager Johan Bruyneel and a soigneur also caught the virus.
"This is not the right moment, but it is never a good moment (to get ill)", directeur sportif Alain Gallopin said in the statement issued by the team.
"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 was in Flanders last week.”
“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's next major race is the Tour of California in mid-May but there is growing speculation that he may race in the USA before then, perhaps at the SRAM Tour of the Gila at the end of April.