Behind the mystery of the phantom USPRO champion
By Kirsten Robbins, in Augusta Georgia
Toyota-United Pro's USPRO champion Chris Wherry is a notable absentee from the 2006 Tour de Georgia. Wherry picked up a parasite while training this winter in Mexico. His symptoms appeared to have improved earlier this year, but he was still having difficulty with the intensity of his training regimen, according to Toyota-United Pro director sportif Frankie Andreau.
Cyclingnews spoke with Andreau just after the team presentation Monday afternoon. Andreau was able to shed some light on the disappearance of the USPRO road race champion, "Wherry came to training camp and he was looking very fit and very skinny but when he was doing the training exercises and riding up the climbs he couldn't get his heart rate elevated," says Andreau. "He felt like he was going hard but something was not feeling right. He went back home to get tested by the doctors and it was found that he had a parasite. The doctors have given him several rounds of medication however it has been four months, January until now, and he is still not a hundred percent. He has since been to see a specialist in Seattle who has worked with George Hincapie."
Wherry has been taking the time needed to have a full recovery from his illness. "He is doing much better now and has been taking the right steps for the road to recovery. He is taking his medicine, seeing specialists, and he is getting better but these situations take a long time to get completely out of the system so that he can start racing again. He did Redlands and he was so-so there, you could tell he was not racing like the Chris Wherry we all know but he is getting stronger," says Andreau.
Andreau added that Wherry will be making his first appearance with the national champion jersey in the Tour de Gila. "He is training good now and if he can get his heart rate back up to normal and train hard while feeling normal then we will send him to Gila," he said.
Andreau expressed to Cyclingnews his feelings on not having Wherry present during some of the largest races in the US. "It has been upsetting to not have Wherry race this spring. We are sad for Wherry and for the team because we have the US national champion jersey on Toyota-United but we have not been able to show that jersey off yet. Wherry is incredibly strong when he is on and he is a huge asset to Toyota-United. We are very excited to have him riding well, participating with the team, and winning races. Our focus with Wherry right now is to get him healthy again. We need to remember it is a long year."