After being pulled from Tuesday's stage 3 of the Amgen Tour of California when he fell nearly half an hour behind the peloton, Bissell Pro Cycling's Phil Gaimon is back home in Atalanta hoping to recover from a stomach bug and reset his season for another block of racing.
Gaimon finished with the main bunch during Sunday's opening stage in Escondido, and he was 15th on the tremendously difficult stage 2 that finished in 110-degree heat on the Tramway climb outside of Palm Springs. But as the race headed north the next day toward Santa Clarita, Gaimon's performance quickly headed south.
"Every time the road went uphill, I was going backwards," he said while enroute to Atlanta on Wednesday. "We were going uphill, and I was in the back with the sprinters and that's peculiar. I didn't feel that bad, but clearly something was wrong. I can look at the guys I'm next to on the climbs and know that something ain't right."
Gaimon may have fallen victim to the same bug that knocked Julian Kyer from the team roster before the race even started. Kyer flew in from Colorado for the race, but a high fever sent him packing, and Mike Torckler took over his spot. Gaimon said the difficulty of stage 2 may have worn his body down enough to give the bug a better foothold, and he just didn't have enough strength the next day.
"It's one of those things that if I was working in an office, I would probably be able to go to work," he said. "I'd be pissed off and grumpy, and no one would like me that day, but I wouldn't have to call in sick. But the way my job is, that kind of thing doesn't work that way in bike racing. It takes it out of your legs and there's not much you can do. I definitely tried, which was frustrating."
Gaimon rode nearly 80km off the back with team manager Glenn Mitchell following in the support car. Gaimon said Mitchell was helping him choose a pace that may have seen him finish within the time cut, but a race official that had been with them the entire time finally yanked him from the race about 5km from the finish.
"I think whatever official was behind me was tired of it and yanked me out - in a move of mercy, I suppose," Gaimon said. "It was one of those things where I was going to try and finish the day and hope it got better. That didn't work out either. But I know now that it wouldn't have gotten any better, because I feel like shit today."
The 2012 Redlands Bicycle Classic winner said he will enjoy his time at home, the first time he's been back since January, and focus on recovering for the upcoming national championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Parx Philly Cycling Classic in Philadelphia and the Tour de Beauce in Canada.
"Then there's time for a real break before Colorado and Utah, the next big races where I get to show my stuff," he said. "Hopefully I can make it more than two days in those."