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The race’s GC favorite told VeloNews that she’d been struggling with gastrointestinal issues since two hours after the first stage ended on Sunday.
“A stomach problem,” she said. “It comes fast, goes fast. Yesterday I couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink. This morning I had breakfast and I felt super optimistic and I felt ready to go. But I feel like, today I paid the price for that. But I think I was 1000 times better than yesterday. Yesterday I felt like super shit.”
Van Vleuten missed the winning move on stage 2 and then struggled to hold the wheels as the chase blew to bits in the crosswinds.
Movistar’s captain said that the plan Tuesday was simply to ride the stage from the start to finish after not being able to eat or drink during yesterday’s stage.
Van Vleuten was gapped deep into the final of stage 3’s Champagne-country excursion but limited her losses to 18 seconds on yellow jersey Marianne Vos.
“I yesterday played some poker, today I couldn’t really play poker anymore,” she said.
To add insult to injury, Van Vleuten is not a fan of tomorrow’s stage, which is punctuated by four gravel sectors.
“I’ve seen it, I saw it after the Amstel Gold race and it was a lot of hard gravel,” she said. “I’ve won Strade Bianche two times, so I’m just not so keen to have gravel in stage racing. The bad luck factor.”
Now at 1:14 on GC, Van Vleuten will be looking forward to an upturn in health and the mountaintop finishes that close the race.