Aru: My Giro d'Italia turned into a nightmare

Fabio Aru has confirmed he will not be part of the UAE Team Emirates squad for the Tour de France, and he will not defend his Italian national road race title on Saturday. Aru is working on recovering from his disastrous Giro d’Italia and hopes to salvage his season by riding the Vuelta a Espana and the end of season Classics.

Aru attended a decisive meeting with the UAE Team Emirates management on Monday; with the team deciding that Aru will return to racing at the Tour de Wallonie at the end of July before riding the Tour de Pologne and then the Vuelta a Espana.

Recent medical tests and a review of Aru’s training have shown he suffers from a gluten and dairy product intolerance. Aru has also admitted that he spent far too long training at altitude, pushing himself deeper than his body wanted. He will now spend more time at home in Lugano, Switzerland and race more frequently.

“We seriously considered riding the Tour de France because I really wanted to bounce back after this difficult moment, I don’t want to be remembered as the rider everyone saw at the Giro d’Italia,” Aru explained in a long interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“However, we studied things carefully and reached a wise decision. I came out of the Giro wrecked. It’s better to rest up, reset and go again in the final part of the season. The 2018 season isn’t over. There’s the Vuelta, the World Championships, the Italian Classics and Il Lombardia. There’s still time to show who I am.

“It’s a pity that I can’t ride the Italian championships, because it’s been special to spend a year in the ‘tricolore’ as Italian champion. But, it’s a special race that has to be respected.”

Aru quit the Giro d’Italia early, on stage 19, after suffering on every climb of the race and struggling to be competitive in the overall classification. He took two weeks off the bike, avoiding seeing any of the final stages, and only beginning to train on June 9.

“I only made it to stage 19 thanks to my mental strength and desire to fight on. I truth, I had about an hour of riding in me,” Aru explained.

“In the final stages of the Giro I felt empty, swollen and lacking energy. I was retaining liquids and never felt good. I’ve rarely given up in races, I know how to suffer and hope that things get better. This time things just got worse and my Giro turned into a nightmare.”

A gluten and dairy product intolerance, training overload

Aru has been coached by former Astana teammate and close friend Paolo Tiralongo, but has admitted they made some serious mistakes by spending too much time at altitude. He has also undergone tests and changed his diet to overcome a gluten and dairy intolerance.

“I discovered an intolerance to gluten three years ago, but never really got to the bottom of it and perhaps didn’t feel the effects until this year,” Aru admitted.

“It’s not celiac disease but when you’re suffering, you can struggle to absorb carbohydrates. There’s also gluten in the gels or maltodextrin. Now, I’ve limited the amount of pasta and carbs I eat and eliminated dairy products. I feel lighter and better on the bike.

Aru admits that his intolerances are not the main reason for his problems, with Tiralongo under pressure. He will continue to work as a directuer sportif with UAE Team Emirates with Aru’s training monitored by the team’s coaches.

“I was always chasing my form, and that led me to do too much,” Aru admitted. “If you’re not going well, you automatically think you need to do more and so you did six hours instead of four, you think an altitude camp is the best option. But it all led to my form being up and down like a roller coaster.

“My training demolished me and my body paid the price. I started the Giro tired and stressed out. That’s why we’ve decided I should spend more time at home, but include more races, not thinking about the results but test myself and to feel the atmosphere of racing.”

The five-stage Tour de Wallonie begins on Saturday July 28 – the final week of the Tour de France. Aru will then ride the Tour de Pologne (August 4-10) before the Vuelta a Espana (August 25-September 16).

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