Chris Froome of Team Sky is once again battling bilharzia (schistosomiasis), a disease caused by parasitic worms. He suffered from the disease for much of 2011, recovering in time to finish second overall in the Vuelta a Espana, and had hoped to be rid of it for good. But blood tests this year revealed he still had the parasites in his system.
Froome apparently picked up the disease on a trip to his native Kenya in November 2010. He suffered through much of 2011, but thought he had conquered the problem.
He is now riding the Tour de Romandie, with very little racing in his legs so far this season. He didn't feel quite right at the team training camp in Mallorca in January, and had to abandon the Volta ao Algarve with a chest infection.
That infection kept him in bed for two weeks and “then lingered on for another two weeks, preventing me from making the start at Paris-Nice,” he wrote on his personal website. Once he finally felt better, he suffered a training crash the middle of March, “which had me in hospital for the day – luckily only leaving with a chin-full of stitches.”
But after that blood tests “revealed active bilharzia parasites in my system, which I have been trying to get rid of for the past 18 months. This would explain why the chest infection affected me so severely and it took me so long to get over.”
Since then, the 26-year-old has been able train well the last three weeks while undergoing treatment, “and all the signs are looking good. It will probably still take me a bit of time to get used to the race rhythm again but physically and mentally I’m now ready to race again. At long last!”