For the past two seasons the French sprinter Romain Feillu had zero victories. After his emergency appendix surgery mid-August the Vacansoleil-DCM rider is optimistic that he has finally found the reason he has under-performed. "These health problems may have cost me one and a half or maybe even two years. The doctors are unsure of that," the Vacansoleil-DCM rider told Cyclism'Actu and Cyclingnews, "but after my surgery for appendicitis I feel I am on the way back. I am not tired, and at 29 years old I still have a lot to win."
Feillu , a pro since 2007, started with Vacansoleil-DCM back in 2010 and won the Tour de Picardie, the GP de Fourmies, the Tour du Finestère and eight stages in several stage races. His last victory dates back to June 2011 when he won the final stage of the Skoda Tour de Luxembourg.
In 2012 and 2013 he earned several podium places but no victories. The Frenchman explained that health issues were to blame. "I have had problems with vomiting, even back in 2011 when I was very successful," Feillu said. "But in the past six months alone I have been to the hospital five times. The doctors didn't know what was wrong. They even said that I had forced things myself, that I had done too much. The last time I went to hospital I said never mind. If you go to hospitals so many times and they never find anything, it just doesn't make any sense anymore."
In August 2012, Feillu was diagnosed with a bacterial infection of the stomach. “The problems with the vomiting just kept bothering me. Maybe it was a food allergy, or maybe I was not eating well. It was a bit of a mystery," he said. "When they found the bacterial infection and I started watching my diet better, things improved a little, but I still had nights I had to rush to the emergency room because I was vomiting so much, up to the point when there was only bile left."
For a sprinter like Romain Feillu not winning is a problem, but it didn’t affect his motivation. "Yes, there were moments I had my doubts but I still love my bike, and I love racing and training."
In April, Feillu finished second in the Belgian semi-classic GP Pino Cerami and in August he sprinted to a third place in the first stage of Tour de l'Ain. "I felt okay in Tour de l'Ain and also in the Tour de Wallonie but in June, in the Tour de Suisse I felt horrible. I was pretty much okay before I went to Switzerland but the night before the first stage everything started all over again. And that scenario repeated itself before several races during the past two years. You get hope that the worst is behind you every time. But every time I was disappointed."
On August 16 Romain Feillu had surgery where his appendix was removed. "The surgeon told me he was amazed that I had continued racing. It was a very bad abcess and some tissue around it was necrotic."
The Frenchman hopes the worst is now behind him so he can focus on the future. "I already feel that some things have changed. It's also important that I now know what held me back for one and a half or maybe even two years."
This weekend Feillu will return to racing in the GP de Fourmies, a race he won twice. After that he will continue up to Paris-Tours on October 13th.
The French sprinter will need some results in order to find a new team because Vacansoleil-DCM most likely will fold after this season. "There are options but we don't have anything concrete yet. The teams are waiting. They are now looking for the big names to see if they can afford those. I am in a bit of a stand-by mode but I am optimistic I will find a team again. And yes, it's very well possible that will be in France," Feillu concluded.