Alesssandro Ballan has received some very unwelcome news. Doctors have diagnosed the Lampre-NGC classics star with Cytomegalovirus, a virus in the herpes family. Symptoms resemble Mono, and include fever, various gastrointestinal unpleasantness, and extreme fatigue. The virus is passed through bodily fluids, including sweat, saliva, and blood. It often shows up among children in day care centers and on occasion, can be transmitted through blood transfusions.
The infection will require Ballan to rest for 20 days, at least, before returning to training. Carlo Guardascione, the team doctor for Lampre-NGC, explained that they would monitor the course of the virus each week. Only when there are no longer any signs of infection can Ballan return to training. As a consequence, Ballan will not start Milano-San Remo or the Holy Week classics, Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix.
Health problems have troubled the current world champion since Montepaschi Eroica, where he proved unable to start. Though he rode several stages of Tirreno-Adriatico, he soon abandoned. Now, after testing at the hospital in Castelfranco, he knows the reason for his troubles, though that knowledge offers little comfort. In a press statement, Ballan said, "I am very bitter at the prospect of having to miss Milano-San Remo and not to participate in the Northern classics." "It is disappointing to have made so many sacrifices to prepare at my best and to have to withdraw," he concluded. The world champion does not know when he can return or what races he will target for the remaining season. It depends on the course of the infection and when the doctors clear him to return to training.
Update: In somewhat related news, Fabian Cancellara has also declared that he will not start Milano-San Remo, which he won last year. He does still hope to ride the Northern classics, and will ride Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali to prepare.