Vuelta a España: Australia’s Johnnie Walker late call up for Footon Servetto, Valls withdraws
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vuelta a España: Australia’s Johnnie Walker late call up for Footon Servetto, Valls withdraws

by Conal Andrews at 10:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Vuelta a España: Australia’s Johnnie Walker late call up for Footon Servetto, Valls withdraws

Footon ServettoThe 23 year old Australian rider Johnnie Walker has had a late call-up to the Vuelta a España, joining the other riders on the Footon Servetto squad after team-mate Rafa Valls withdrew.

Valls had a solid debut in the Tour de France, finishing a superb second on the stage to Station des Rousses and placing 53rd overall. However the 23 year old suddenly fell ill last week, suffering from fever and diarrhea, and is now waiting for the results of tests. Initial indications are that it is mononucleosis, or glandular fever.

“After my performance in the Tour de France, I had big hopes to shine also in the Vuelta,” he said. “But we've got to be sensible and I can't race a course like that with my physical status. We have to wait for the analysis to confirm the mononucleosis, and then see if I can ride on during this season or close it down.”

Initially they felt that the illness was nothing too complicated, yet the symptoms persisted. “We've waited until the very last minute for it to blow over, because we thought it was a simple flu that would last for few days,” he said in a team statement. “But the fever is not going down and I feel dead tired. It's not the best way to head into a three-week stagerace and I don't want to steal a spot from a teammate to end up abandoning in the second stage."

Walker is the brother of former world under 23 champion Will Walker. His best performances this year are fifth on a stage of the Vuelta a Asturias and eighth on a leg of he Vuelta a Burgos.

Valls will keep his fingers crossed that the full analysis doesn’t confirm the initial test suggestions that he has mononucleosis. If he does, it can take several months to recover from it. His recuperation period will depend on what the diagnosis is, how he responds to treatment and also how closely he follows doctor’s orders if he does have the disease.

Footon Servetto will next year be backed by the Italian footwear manufacturer Geox. Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov will move to the team, but details of the rest of the lineup have not yet been confirmed.

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