RadioShack-Nissan-Trek rider Markel Irizar has been forced to alter his start to the season due to an untimely bout of fever. The erstwhile Euskaltel man was supposed to line up for his "new" team at the Challenge Mallorca on Monday, but will instead toe the line at the Tour of Qatar tomorrow.
"I was supposed to travel with Haimar (Zubeldia) to Mallorca on Monday, but I woke up with a fever of 39. I got in touch with the team, and we decided I should spend a few more days at home until I felt better. I soon realized it wouldn't do me any good to race on Mallorca, so when I found out (team-mate Hayden) Roulston wasn't heading for Qatar after all, I told the team I'd rather take part in that race. In Qatar I'll compete with the 'Classics-squad'", he wrote on his own website.
Last year's overall winner of the Vuelta a Andalucía further revealed he'll head back home to Spain after Qatar to get ready for the Clásica Almería, opting out of the hillier Tour of Oman.
This year's off-season hasn't been kind to the likeable Oñati native. Irizar, who'll turn 32 tomorrow, also crashed badly on a training ride in early December.