Infection picked up through innocuous looking cut threatens Belgian's preparations for Classics season...

Tom Boonen of Omega Pharma-Quick Step is recovering in hospital in Belgium after undergoing an emergency operation on Sunday for a septic infection in his left elbow. There’s no news yet on how long his recovery is likely to take, but the surgery will disrupt his preparations for the Spring Classics.

The former world champion, who last year won both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, the highlights of a stunning Classics season for him, had fallen off his mountain bike while training near his home the previous Sunday, receiving a slight cut that subsequently became infected.

"I fell on my left elbow," he revealedin an article publiched on the team website. "I didn't even think about it, it was just a little scrape to the elbow, which I cleaned and disinfected once I got back home.

“During the week everything was going well, I wasn't having any problems. Then suddenly on Saturday, January 19th, my elbow started swelling.

“I started to get concerned and so together with the team medical staff I decided to go to the hospital in Herentals. After specific checks and therapy and a prescription of some antibiotics I went home.

“The following morning I went back to the hospital for a check up. When the doctors saw how swollen my arm was they immediately decided to operate.

“I have to thank the medical staff, who understood right away that the infection was spreading, and who organised things to solve the problem in no time."

Boonen is now being kept under observation at the hospital where the operation was carried out, and appreciates that he was lucky that action was decided upon before the infection had a chance to spread further.

"That was a really close call for me," he acknowledged. "Now, fortunately, the situation is improving.

“Now I want to recuperate as soon as possible and then next week I'll be thinking again on my training and competitive schedule.

“Of course, this problem couldn't have come at a worse time, what with the upcoming Classics," he concluded.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step said that it would release a further update on his condition in the next few days, as well as any potential changes to his race schedule.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.