Tom Dumoulin has revealed he recently spent two days undergoing tests in hospital and is following a special diet as he tries to understand and resolve what caused him to make an emergency toilet stop just after the summit of the Passo Stelvio during stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia this year.
The Dutchman was seen stripping off and then hid below a grass banking to make his sudden toilet stop. He eventually got going again and chased down his rivals but the problems could have cost him victory in the Giro d'Italia.
He managed to limit his losses to two minutes, retained the race leader's pink jersey by a few seconds, and went on to win the Giro d'Italia ahead of Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali. However the stomach problems revealed a weakness in his armour.
Dumoulin revealed that he had suffered with a similar problem during the 2016 Tour de France and initially suggested the cause was eating too many gels and due to high altitude sending blood away from his gut to his legs. He is using the off-season to try to find a cure to his problem.
"That problem has still not be solved," Dumoulin revealed during an appearance in front of hundreds of Dutch University students for a television called College Tour that will be shown on Dutch television on Friday evening.
"I recently spent two days in the hospital in Enschede for all kinds of research. Now I'm following a diet where we hope to find out whether I'm sensitive to certain products. It's one of those things I'm doing now in the hope of being better for the years to come."
Too much starch?
Specialist sports nutritionist Nigel Mitchell, who has worked with Team Sky and Cannondale-Drapac, believes Dumoulin simply ate too much starchy food before the big mountain stage.
"My take on it is that he was on the bike for six hours and if he ate a lot of fibre at breakfast, that creates faecal mass or to put it another way: poo," Mitchell told Cyclingnews during the Giro d'Italia.
"I'm not aware of any data that confirms blood diversion can occur at altitude. A lot of sugars in the small bowel can cause osmotic diarrhoea but I didn't see what Dumoulin left at the side of the road. However osmotic diarrhoea is quite explosive and causes stomach cramps. I don't think it was that.
"Everyone is different. I've know riders who have a faster bowels and so they follow a low residue diet for 24 hours before the key stages, to reduce any problems. That's why we developed rice cakes. They're very digestible. Your body takes all the nutrients and the fluid but it doesn't increase the bulk in the bowel and the stool."
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