Illness, injury derail Felt Ötztal X-Bionic World Cup team's Italian plans

Virus knocks out most of the team for Montichiari race

Following a good showing at the Maremma Cup, the Felt Ötztal X-Bionic World Cup team went into the Internazionali d'Italia round, also known as the Trofeo Giorgio Senini, in Montichiari with high hopes. However, injuries and illness sidelined a majority of the team's riders before and during the race.

Simon Scheiber and Sabrina Enaux were already out of competition due to a torn ligament and shoulder injury respectively. Both are unlikely to race again before the end of March.

Then a gastro-intestinal virus made its rounds among the remaining team members over the past week. Karl Markt was knocked out at the beginning of last week and did not start in Montichiari. His colleague Manfred Reis complained about discomfort in his stomach shortly before the race, but started nonetheless. On the first lap after the start loop, Reis had to abandon the race as the pain had become too strong. Reis was already on his way home by the time Marco Aurelio Fontana won the men's event.

Adelheid Morath and Blaza Klemencic had both placed in the top five at the Maremma Cup the week before, but they, too, were struck by the stomach bug in Montichiari. During breakfast, Klemencic noticed she was feeling ill while Morath didn't notice the symptoms until later, after starting the race. Morath chose to fight on, tormenting herself to push through and finish sixth despite the illness setting in.

"It's a shame, I didn't feel fit at all. I noticed that my body is unable to afford any more effort today," said Morath. Under normal circumstances, Morath would have expected to make the podium. Instead those spots went to winner Nathalie Schneitter and Italian Eva Lechner and Anna Szafraniec from Poland.

The team is focusing on rebuilding its health going into the Racer Bikes Cup round in Buchs, Swizterland, and the Kamptal-Klassik-Trophy in Langenlois, Austria in two weeks.

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