Björn Leukemans out of Paris-Roubaix with knee problems after Flanders crash
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Friday, April 06, 2012

Björn Leukemans out of Paris-Roubaix with knee problems after Flanders crash

by Ben Atkins at 11:28 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Roubaix, Injury
 
Flanders crash sees Vacansoleil-DCM Classics leader sit out Hell of the North; hopes to recover for Ardennes races

bjorn leukemansBjörn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM) has decided that the knock he took to his knee in a crash during last weekend’s Ronde van Vlaanderen has not recovered sufficiently for him to ride Paris-Roubaix this coming Sunday. The Belgian Classics specialist finished 14th in the race, as part of the large group that finished 38 seconds behind the winning trio of Tom Boonen, Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan.

The 34-year-old has been monitoring the condition of his knee since then, along with the Vacansoleil-DCM team’s medical staff and, although it has shown improvement, he does not feel ready to start the toughest one-day race of the year.

“Today it was obvious that it was a bit better but I still felt something and the knee needs more rest,” Leukemans explained. “In Paris-Roubaix you have to be a hundred percent and free of worries. That’s why I decided not to start and I am hopefully recovered in time for Flèche Brabançonne and to make something of my spring season.

“This decision hurts but is the right one,” he added.

In last year’s Flèche Brabançonne - aka Brabantse Pijl - Leukemans was the only rider able to follow the pace set by Philippe Gilbert, and finished second to the eventual WorldTour champion in the first of his incredible four-race winning streak. He then went on to take seventh in the Amstel Gold Race, and ninth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège - naturally behind Gilbert both times - so will obviously be hopeful of a full recovery soon.

As the team’s best rider in the Cobbled Classics of last year too however, with seventh in Flanders and 13th in Roubaix (see picture), Leukemans will naturally be sorely missed by his team in Sunday’s race.

“As a team you know you can count on Leukemans in these weeks of the season,” said Vacansoleil-DCM team manager Hilaire Van Der Schueren. “I am interested in how it develops and hope that he still gets rewarded this spring for all the work he has done.

“Luckily we have several other good riders,” the Dutchman reasoned. “I have great confidence in those riders and can’t wait to see where they are at on Sunday.”

The team will also be without Dutchman Wouter Mol, who broke his collarbone in a crash in Wednesday's Scheldeprijs; former Belgian champion Stijn Devolder is still feeling pain in his elbow after a crash in Flanders, but the two-time Ronde van Vlaanderen winner will still start on Sunday.

Vacansoleil-DCM team for Paris-Roubaix
Gustav-Erik Larsson, Kris Boeckmans, Stijn Devolder, Frederik Veuchelen, Martin Mortensen, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Pim Ligthart and Marco Marcato.

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