Craig Lewis is healthy and back on the front of the Columbia-HTC’s train two weeks after contacting the H1N1 virus, commonly referred to as swine flu. Lewis helped team-mate Mark Cavendish capture back-to-back stage victories at the Tour of Missouri.
“I still don’t feel 100 percent because I missed a couple of weeks of riding,” said Lewis. “I’m kind of hoping to get some good form here and have a good trip to Europe next. We have Cav here, who can win any stage if it’s a bunch sprint, so we will look after him. We have a few guys that can time trial too so I’ll be one of the guys riding on the front every day.”
Lewis contracted the H1N1, a swine-origin subtype of the Influenza A virus, upon his return from the Tour of Ireland two weeks ago. Within several hours of his return home in Greenville, South Carolina his symptoms increased from feeling 'off' to a fever of 104 Fahrenheit. Doctors at his local hospital confirmed that he had contracted the H1N1 virus and he was immediately quarantined.
“I kept a level head and I wasn’t too shocked or surprised,” Lewis said. “I’m just glad they found something and that I was able to recover. I think the doctors were more shocked than anything else. They wanted me to get out as fast as possible. I was in for a couple of hours, they put a mask on me and I had my own room like a quarantine [situation]. They immediately pushed me out of the hospital.”
Doctors told Lewis that the contagious period could last anywhere between seven days and two weeks from the incubation period. According to Lewis, several days of recovery was all it took to start feeling well enough to race the USPro Championships, one week after being diagnosed with the virus.
“Luckily I passed it pretty quick,” said Lewis, who aided his team-mate George Hincapie to victory. “I was still feeling really off because I was still on the medication that they were giving me. But I tried to help George as much as I could.”
The symptoms were severe but recovering from the swine flu has its advantages. In Lewis’ case, he gets his own room on the road with the team and certainly won’t be on water bottle duty for some time.
“The guys have been giving me a hard time because no one has ever had the virus in the peloton,” Lewis laughed. “They blame me for everything now. No sharing water bottles, no one wants to room with me.”