The Netherlands' ProTour team Rabobank suffered a major blow on Monday's third Giro d'Italia stage, when sprinter Graeme Brown had to drop out of the race, climbing into the team car 50 kilometres before the finish line on the 181 kilometre stage. The Australian had started throwing up shortly after the start of the race, the team said on its website rabobank.nl. "Of course it is a sore disappointment to him," said Directeur Sportif Adri van Houwelingen. "But, first of all, he is ill."
Brown fell back on the day's climbs, but kept fighting his way back until he was unable to go any further. "He then fell behind definitively," according to van Houwelingen. "In just a short period, he lost a significant amount of time. Hence, it became useless to continue. Graeme would have never been able to reach the finish without violating the time limit."
The sprinter also realised it was impossible and decided to stop. "He would have liked to demonstrate his progression as a cyclist in a big tour, but he let common sense prevail," the team website said.
Teammate Leon Van Bon, who is recovering from stomach problems, could sympathize with his teammate's situation. "During the race, I approached Brown and he was already vomiting a little bit," said Van Bon. "I then went to the tour-doctor to get some medicine for him, but after he took those, he started to vomit even more.
"Everything seemed to be fine before the start of the race, well, at least we did not notice anything," added Van Bon. "I know what it feels like when you have to abandon a race due to illness. Not only do you feel terrible, you also feel powerless."