Updated: Tom Boonen to race De Panne this week despite injury, but cautious over Tour of Flanders title defence (+ video)
Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider who crashed in Gent-Wevelgem included in line-up for Three Days of De Panne
Tom Boonen’s Omega Pharma-Quick Step team has included him in its line-up for the Three Days of De Panne, which starts tomorrow, despite fears that the injury he suffered to his knee during yesterday's Gent-Wevelgem might lead to his not being able to to defend his Tour of Flanders title on Sunday.
"The knee is still slightly swollen and it hurts, but I really have to work on my racing rhythm this week as well, prior to the Ronde [Tour of Flanders]," said Boonen, who made the decision to ride De Panne after a session on his home trainer this morning. "We'll take it day by day and see how I feel," he added.
Boonen won Gent-Wevelgem 12 months ago as part of a stellar Classics campaign that also saw him break a number of records, including becoming the first man to complete the Flanders and Roubaix double in the same season, however a crash ahead of the Kemmelberg put paid to his chances yesterday.
However, his preparations for the 2013 season suffered a setback when he had to have surgery on an infected elbow early in the year, and he has been fighting to ride himself into good form ahead of the year’s two big cobbled Classics.
According to Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s medical staff, Boonen suffered a contusion on the right knee and the tendon in the area of the tibia insertion following his crash yesterday, which he explained happened when he struck a kerb.
"Everybody was looking for good position for the Kemmelberg,” said Boonen. "I was waiting in the group for the right and last moment to go to the front so I didn't spend so much energy.
“At the moment I thought 'OK, this is the time to go', another rider passed me from the right, so I had to wait for a few seconds. In those few seconds the curb went from zero to 10 centimeters.
“The rider in front of me didn't see it and he wanted to go. So, I had to react and didn't have enough room to jump on it. I touched it with my front wheel and went down pretty hard. I touched first with my knee and then with the rest of my body.
“My knee is swollen, it hurts, but we'll see how it reacts tomorrow. Now is important to keep calm now and don't try to run before we can walk."
Stijn Vanderbergh was the team’s top-placed rider in what was a disappointing race for them and he, together with Boonen himself and Mark Cavendish, describe their day in the following video.