Cadel Evans (BMC) had hoped to finish better than fifth overall in the Giro d'Italia, 3:27 behind Ivan Basso, but revealed that a temperature and stomach problems after stage 11 to L'Aquila had wrecked his chances.
The world champion said that the BMC team doctor had advised him to quit the race but he fought on, even if he was never as strong as before his problems. He did not reveal his problems because he did not want it to be an excuse during the race.
"I came here with the legs and head to win the Giro but I had some bad luck with health issues. That's racing I suppose. Fifth is not bad," Evans said.
"Unfortunately the night before the stage to L'Aquila, I went to bed with a temperature. I had a 38.8C and woke up the morning after with 38.0C. The team doctor advised me to go home. I tried to start the stage but was afraid of being dropped even in the neutralized zone. Everybody was talking about the break going away that day but I was just happy to have stayed with the front group on the first climb. Everybody knows how bad you feel when you've got 38C temperature but I rode for 262km like that."
"The day after I still felt ill and also had stomach problems. I was forced to eat plain rice for a few days and after that I never felt as good as I had early earlier in the race."
"I didn’t talk about it because I was trying to recover and get back in the race and there was nothing I could do."
Evans admitted he could have perhaps finished on the podium with the support of a stronger team but said the illness was far worse than lack of teammates in key moments of the race.
"We lost a minute in the team time trial and then there were other moments when I was alone but I lost the biggest margin of form with the illness and that cost me perhaps a couple of place overall. But I'm proud of the riders who came to the Giro and especially the four who finished the race with me and worked hard for me."
"I'm satisfied. It could have been better but I have to be happy. I won a stage and Montalcino was one special. It's easy to say when you win but it was one of the best races of my life."
Basso: Good things come from bad
Evans and Basso are both coached by Aldo Sassi, who his talked to both of them every day despite undergoing chemotherapy to treat a brain tumor.
"Aldo Sassi wanted two riders on podium. I failed but at least one of us finished on the podium," Evans said.
"I can only congratulate Liquigas and Ivan. They deserved it. They took control of the Giro after the day to L'Aquila and I'm happy for them.
As we say, good things come from bad. I think that Ivan has shown everyone that he's back to his best. I don’t know what was in his mind before but it was difficult for him to come back. Fortunately he had the help of his family and friends. For him to win this time is probably worth double or triple than his first Giro win."
Like Basso, Evans will now rest up, recover and then prepare for the Tour de France.
"I'm going on holiday first, then I'll think about the Tour de France," he explained. "I'm not going to race again because I've already done 40 days this year at some high-quality races like the Tour Down Under and Tirreno-Adriatico. I'll work on recovering well and then I'll go for to the Tour with a strong team."