Rabobank and Milram suffering

Some of the ProTour teams must be wondering if there isn't an "illness and injury curse" working on them this season. The flu, bronchitis, crashes and other injuries are making a big dent in the peloton so far this year.

Rabobank will be happy to see the Vuelta al Pais Vasco come to an end this weekend. "We feel we have had enough misery this week. It has not turned out to be our lucky tour," said director sportif Erik Breukink.

The team suffered two abandons Thursday, after losing captain Denis Menchov to bronchitis in the opening stage. Yesterday, Michael Rasmussen had to drop out after coming down with a stomach bug Wednesday night. "He tried anyway on Thursday even though he was badly weakened," according to the team's website. "Unfortunately his attempt proved to be futile just a few kilometres into the race."

Thomas Dekker dropped out halfway through the stage because of hip pains. The hip had been hurting for a while, but he decided to call it quits when the pain spread down into his right leg. "It was just a precautionary measure to make sure he would not end up with a severe injury," said Breukink.

Meanwhile, team Milram received another blow Thursday when Dennis Haueisen had to undergo emergency surgery because of abdominal bleeding. The 26 year-old had complained of severe stomach pains during Rund um Köln on Monday, but thought it was just an upset stomach. Yesterday, an ambulance took him to the hospital in Gera, Germany, where he was operated on. The doctors indicated that the bleeding is the result of injuries brought about by a crash in last year's Benelux Tour.

The team had slightly better news concerning its two riders injured Wednesday on the Kemmelberg. Fabio Sacchi, who had a severely bruised shinbone, left the hospital Thursday. Teammate Mario Velo also showed some improvement and it was hoped that he could be transferred to a hospital in Italy on Friday. He suffered a broken collarbone and ribs, and it is further suspected that he tore knee ligaments.

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