By Kirsten Robbins
Discovery Channel team's super domestique Jason McCartney was admitted to Atlanta's Emory Hospital after complaining of severe headaches before the start of the Tour de Georgia. Doctors in Atlanta confirmed with PJ Rabice, the Discovery Channel's public relations officer, that McCartney is suffering from viral meningitis.
It was an unfortunate loss for the Discovery Channel team when their prized domestique with drew from the race before it began. McCartney has been has was first noticed by the Discovery Channel after winning a stage in 2004. Last year he proved to be one of the strongest riders in the field during the Brasstown Bald stage dangling in front of the field allowing his teammate and stage winner Tom Danielson to rest for the final climb. He has proved to be on tremendous form this year after capturing third place in the Tour of California while working for race winner Levi Leipheimer.
The team flew over to Europe to compete in a series of stage races before returning the US' Tour de Georgia. "(McCartney) was sick at the Castilla y Leon and almost did not race there," Rabice told Cyclingnews. "He went home and was training in some really cold weather. He is pretty lean right now while getting ready for the Giro d'Italia and training long hours in 25-30 degree weather in Iowa because the weather is so crappy. His immune system may have been down as far back as the Castilla y Leon."
McCartney arrived in Atlanta and began complaining of severe headaches on the Friday before the race was scheduled to start. "By late Sunday night his headache was so severe and to the point of nausea," Rabice said. "He was taken to the hospital where the doctors ran a bunch of tests and the prognosis was that it was a case of viral meningitis. It is not contagious or life threatening but he had to remain in the hospital and continue to take medication for the severe headaches involved."
McCartney will remain in the hospital until the results of his second set of tests are clear. "In the last few days he has been up and down with his headaches," Rabice said. "The doctors have been doing other tests to make sure that they are covering all of the bases because of the fluctuation of his headaches. As of yesterday afternoon he was feeling much better and his headaches were going away. The doctors expect to release him (Saturday) afternoon or maybe as late as (Sunday)."
McCartney's family flew in to Atlanta to visit him in the hospital. They had made arrangements to attend the Tour de Georgia to watch the final three stages before flying back to their hometown of Iowa City.