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Jens Voigt's final pro bike – complete with 'shut up legs' mantra
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Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol) was steadily building for his Ardennes campaign at Tirreno
New focus on Vuelta a España, World Championships and Lombardia
Jelle Vanendert has been ruled out of the Tour de France after medical examination revealed an intestinal parasite. One of Lotto Belisol's key climbing domestiques for Jurgen Van Den Broeck has been forced to sit out this year's edition after the reason for his sub-par performance and withdrawal from the Critérium du Dauphiné was finally explained.
A former stage winner at the Tour, Vanendert was expected to line up alongside general classification hopeful Van Den Broeck in three weeks time for the start of the race on the island of Corsica but will instead spend the next 10 days resting before looking to other targets later in the season.
"Tests have showed that a parasite has developed in the intestines of Jelle. The consequences of these parasite in the body of Jelle are tiredness and not being able to make full use of his capacities. After a period of rest the symptoms seem to go but from the moment he has to exert himself, they return," explained team doctor Jan Mathieu.
"Many people who have a parasite in their body never notice it. For a sportsman that's different, they have consequences much easier. Because they spend much time outside, they are more susceptible for this phenomenon as well. Such a parasite can be formed after contact with contaminated water from puddles during their training rides or in races. Now we know the cause of his problems, we have started an adequate course of antibiotics cure," he added.
Vanendert should make a full recovery from his current health troubles and the team has already begun to formulate a plan for the later part of the year. Instead of riding the Tour, Vanendert will begin preparing for the final grand tour at the Vuelta a España. That should in effect, put him in top condition for the World Championships and the final WorldTour race at the Giro di Lombardia (Il Lombardia).
"Jelle, the sport and medical staff have decided not to participate in the Tour de France. Most important in first instance is that he gets healthy again by resting and getting the right medication. Then we can work towards competition level through a specific training. A new programme will be drawn up with the Vuelta, the world championships and Lombardia as main goals. We believe in the big capabilities of Jelle and are convinced he'll serve the team in the final part of the season," said Marc Sergeant.
It would be the third attempt at the Vuelta for Vanendert, most recently pulling out on Stage 15 in the 2010 edition. Since then however, the 28-year-old has won a stage of the Tour and finished 20th overall (2011) and ridden in support of Van Den Broeck in last year's race where his team captain took his best result to date with fourth.