Fabio Aru has described himself as a "wreck" due the intestinal ailment that ruled him out of the Giro del Trentino but the Astana rider remains hopeful that he will be able to line up at the Tour de Romandie next week in preparation for the Giro d’Italia, which gets underway on May 9.
Aru was due to be one of the principal attractions at the Giro del Trentino and the announcement of his withdrawal on Monday, one day before the start of the race, caught the organisers by surprise.
"I trained well on Saturday. On Sunday I started feeling ill, coming and going from the bathroom – a viral intestinal infection, which was diagnosed at the clinic where I was examined," Aru told Gazzetta dello Sport. "In two days I had more than 30 attacks of cramps. I'm a wreck."
Aru told Gazzetta that he has been prescribed "a cycle of antibiotics to crush the virus" – although it should be noted that antibiotics are used to treat bacterial rather than viral infections. In any case, Aru said that he did not know the origin of his infection.
"I asked if there was an explanation for this attack but they said there wasn't. These are ailments that flare up in a mysterious way. Now I'm at home in Lugano, in bed, but I hope I'll be feeling better from tomorrow [Tuesday – ed.]"
Aru has spent 28 days training at altitude on Mount Teide so far this season, almost double his amount of race days (15) to date, and he estimated that prior to his illness, he was "further ahead" in his preparation than a year ago, when he went on to finish third overall at the Giro d'Italia.
The Sardinian could replace the Giro del Trentino on his programme with the Tour de Romandie (April 28-May 3), where he would compete alongside his Astana teammate Vincenzo Nibali for the first time this season.
"First of all, I have to try and recover, then I'll think about making up [for the missing race and training days]," Aru said. "If I recover in a few days, I could ride Romandie, but if it takes a few days more, I could just focus on training. My original plan was to do a week of preparation at an altitude of 2,000 metres at Sestriere between Trentino and the Giro, and the Giro team will do that regardless."
By that time, the UCI Licence Commission should have issued a verdict on whether Astana's WorldTour status should be rescinded due to the spate of doping cases on the team last year – though if the licence is revoked, the Kazakh squad would be likely to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
"I'm focused on my objectives," Aru said of the wait for news on Astana's licence. "I'm a lot more unsettled by this damned infection."