By Susan Westemeyer
The intestinal virus that is sweeping Europe swept through the T-Mobile Team in Belgium Saturday, wiped out not only five riders but also the Directeur Sportif. Only Mark Cavendish and Adam Hansen finished the second day's stage of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen for the magenta team, and both were able to hang on and finish the race on Sunday.
According to the team's website, t-mobile-team.com, Scott Davis, Andre Greipel, Aaron Olson and Frantisek Rabon didn't even make it to the start on Saturday. Sprinter Eric Baumann started, but soon dropped out. "Aaron Olson has it the worst. And Eric absolutely wanted to try it -- but he soon agreed that there was no point to it," said Directeur Sportif Jan Schaffrath.
Schaffrath himself was also suffering. "That was absolutely my hardest day in cycling. Even sitting in the team car, I wasn't sure whether I would make it through the day."
His hopes for the final stage were simple: "Our only goal is to bring at least one of our last two riders to the finish line." T-Mobile accomplished that goal, but not without difficulty, as both Hansen and Cavendish crashed during the stage. Hansen was uninjured, but Cavendish suffered "the usual scrapes and a nasty bruise around one eye," according to Schaffrath.
"On this weekend, I experienced everything a Directeur Sportif can experience," he said. "We're just happy that this race is over and that we can all recover now."