Mitchelton-Scott have announced that Esteban Chaves has been diagnosed with mononucleosis and will not participate in the forthcoming Vuelta a España. The Colombian has not raced since the Giro d’Italia in May, where he won atop Mount Etna in the opening week but then abruptly dropped out of the general classification race on stage 10.
Chaves struggled through the remainder of the Giro, reaching Rome in 72nd place overall. He has undergone a battery of tests in the intervening period, with Mitchelton-Scott revealing on Thursday that he had been “diagnosed with a number of viruses, including Mononucleosis (also known as Epstein-Barr or Glandular Fever), along with sinus and allergy reactions.”
Although Chaves has been cleared to resume training after 10 weeks off the bike, it is unclear if he will return to competitive action in 2018. Mitchelton-Scott confirmed that he will not ride the Vuelta, where Simon Yates is slated to lead the line for the Australian team.
“It’s been a hard period. Since 2012, I haven’t been off the bike this long, especially because I can’t. It was not fast like you want. In this sport, we are used to answers and results coming fast and this process was slow and the time can make you crazy,” Chaves said in a statement on Thursday.
“We discovered some sickness, the doctors can always explain better, we had a surgery as well, and after that it was just waiting and having confidence to overcome what was a weird case.
“I’m happy to be back on the bike. It still hurts for sure, but I can already feel some differences; it’s a different suffering than I had before. Now it’s the normal suffering we get when starting again after such a long time off training. We are on the right path again and we have to keep patience and confidence like always.”
Mitchelton-Scott team doctor Manuel Rodriguez explained that Chaves had undergone minor surgery for a chronic sinus problem after being treated for Epstein-Barr virus. He expressed confidence that the treatment has been successful but cautioned against a hasty return to racing.
“Epstein-Barr is not a new virus nor an uncommon one, but Esteban's tests showed that it was gaining strength and attacking when his immune system was down or in times of fatigue, most obviously in races or high intensity training periods. Its strength likely allowed the introduction of other viruses into his body,” Rodriguez said. “After a period of rest and treatment for the viruses, Esteban was cleared for minor sinus surgery before undertaking a final recovery period.
“We are confident that the treatments have been successful and it is safe for Esteban to return to training, but to prevent the recurrence of symptoms we will monitor his health without a deadline to return to racing.”
Chaves enjoyed a fine 2016 season, finishing on the podium at both the Giro and Vuelta, before completing his season with victory in Il Lombardia. After a 2017 campaign blighted by injury, Chaves resumed winning ways with overall victory in the Herald Sun Tour at the beginning of this season. At the Giro, Chaves claimed the win on Mount Etna on the same day his teammate Simon Yates seized the pink jersey. He lay second overall behind the Briton at the end of the opening week, but then lost over 25 minutes on the road to Gualdo Tadino on stage 10.
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