Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) revealed at the Tirreno-Adriatico pre-race press conference on Tuesday that he has been struggling with a cold and will start the race with an illness. Dumoulin told reporters that he picked up the cold last week and exacerbated it by riding a rain-drenched Strade Bianche at the weekend.
"I'm suffering from a sore throat," Dumoulin said on Tuesday afternoon. "I had problems last week and the cold and the rain in the Strade Bianche did not do me any good, which is a shame, because Tirreno is one of my favourite races. I finished sixth last year and I wanted to do better this season. I hope it gets better soon.”
Dumoulin took some solace in the fact that the early terrain was as favourable as it might be considering his condition. The week-long race begins with a flat 21.5km team time trial on Wednesday afternoon in Lido di Camaiore. A relatively flat sprint stage follows on day two with an undulating stage 3 that ends in a steep, explosive climb that could put Dumoulin into trouble if he's still feeling under the weather. Stage 4 is where the real mountains begin, by which point Dumoulin is hoping to feel a little brighter.
"The only advantage is that the first few days are not too heavy. I hope to get better during the race," said Dumoulin.
The news is another blow for Team Sunweb's ambitions at Tirreno-Adriatico after they had to pull Michael Matthews from their original line-up. Matthews fractured his shoulder in a crash at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad at the end of February and immediately pulled out of Strade Bianche at the weekend.
The held back on making any statements about Tirreno-Adriatico until Monday, when they announced the team line-up. Matthews has been replaced by Chad Haga, while he remains focused on returning to racing for Milan-San Remo in 10 days' time.
Tirreno-Adriatico begins on Wednesday, March 7 and Cyclingnews will have live coverage of all seven stages from start to finish.