Beñat Intxausti (Team Sky) could be out for longer than initially expected after he was diagnosed with mononucleosis. Intxausti has been out of action since he withdrew from the Ruta del Sol last month, missing Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico during that time, and he now worries that the illness could prevent him from riding the Giro d’Italia in May.
“There are less than two months, and at this moment, I have not touched my bike in a month. I don’t know when I will start, but I don’t want it to become an obsession,” Intxausti told Basque website eitb.eus.
The 29-year-old has a good record at the Italian Grand Tour with two stage wins and a career-best eighth place overall. Intxausti is down to ride his fourth Giro d’Italia this season, where he is set to ride alongside new teammate and fellow Spaniard Mikel Landa, who finished third last season.
“I love the Giro, but if I go I would like to be in a good condition so maybe I will have to evaluate an alternative calendar,” Intxausti explained. “Within six or seven days, I would like to do a little on the rollers and see how the body is and how it responds after this break.”
Intxausti is in his first season with Team Sky after joining from Movistar over the winter. After starting his campaign at the Mallorca Challenge, Intxausti went to the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana where he finished third behind his teammate Wout Poels. Subsequently, he was due to ride the Ruta del Sol but, two days before the start, he announced on Twitter that he was ill and would not be able to participate.
Initially, Intxausti was under the impression that he was suffering from a minor cold, but when he didn’t respond to medication, he underwent further tests. He was eventually that told he had mononucleosis - also known as the Epstein-Barr virus - a condition that has kept BMC’s Stefan Küng on the sidelines this season. Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) also had to end his 2015 season early due to the virus.
“I was weak, with a tired body. At first, I had the symptoms of a bad cold,” Intxausti told Deia.com. “I started thinking about the issue because they could not give me an accurate reason for my illness.
“The team doctor already suspected it, and once he confirmed it to me, I was feeling calmer. The uncertainty was the worst thing because I felt bad and I wasn’t getting any better… It can only be cured with rest and patience. There is no date or exact time for recovery, but they said that it is usually in the body for between a month and forty days.”
Intxausti says that he is beginning to get better, and his appetite has returned. “The important thing is to recover completely. I'm not looking at the calendar. I will return when I can, when the body responds."
Intxausti’s next planned race is the Vuelta al País Vasco at the start of April.