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Kessiakoff suffers with illness at Vuelta

Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) tries to limit his losses to Wiggins on the final climb.

Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) tries to limit his losses to Wiggins on the final climb. (Image credit: Sirotti)

Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) suffered on stage 14 of the Vuelta to La Farrapona Lagos de Somiedo. The Swede went into the stage just 9 seconds off the race lead but spent the night suffering from gastroenteritis, and ended up losing over a minute to his GC rivals. He now sits in 6th place, 1:23 down on race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky).

"He was sick all night, he suffered from gastroenteritis that kept him from sleeping and before he took the departure we feared that he might pay for it on the road today, "said Astana’s doctor, Andrea Andreazzoli.

Kessiakoff remained with the leaders up until the final kilometers of the last climb. However, once Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) attacked it sparked a frantic chase from Sky. The 31-year-old Swede was unable to match the pace set and began to lose ground.

"At the departure of the stage, I was fearing not having a strong enough shape to follow the rhythm today, but I felt good in the first climb and then I began to feel fatigue in the second climb. In the last few kilometers there were attacks, which I preferred not to respond, while taking the risk to lose too much strength for the last week coming,” Kessiakoff said.

Despite the setback the Vuelta continues to be a breakthrough race for Kessiakoff. The former Fuji and Garmin-Transitions rider had a disastrous 2010 season and was released half-way through his two-year deal with the American team.

Astana swooped in for the former mountain biker and signed him on a two-year contract and despite missing out on the Tour de France, Kessiakoff has shined in recent weeks.

With a tough stage up the Angliru to come the Astana leader will do well to keep his top ten place on GC but he knows that it could all come down to how he recovers from his illness.

"When I see my health’s condition this morning and I see my result at the finish, I am very pleased, I wasn’t expecting to handle it as well. I still have to recover but this hard day is now behind me, I'm relieved!"

The tactic now will be follow, rather than dictate the pace.

"I don’t want to lose strength with many actions to wear the red jersey during one or two days and then finish 50th of the race in Madrid. Some of the favorites have already lost some time because they have made strong efforts that they paid back then.”