Hushovd, Haussler and Steegmans likely to miss Het Nieuwsblad
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Monday, February 22, 2010

Hushovd, Haussler and Steegmans likely to miss Het Nieuwsblad

by Conal Andrews at 6:34 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

Defending champion Thor Hushovd, Cervélo team-mate Heinrich Haussler and RadioShack’s Gert Steegmans are all thought likely to miss the Het Nieuwsblad semi-Classic, which will be held in Belgium on Saturday.

Hushovd and Haussler played a very big role in last year’s race, with the latter attacking in the finale and being caught with just a few hundred metres to go, placing eighth, and the former winning an 18 man gallop to the line.

However the Het Nieuwsblad newspaper has cast doubt on their participation. It points out that Haussler crashed in the Volta ao Algarve on Friday, suffering a blow to his knee, and had to pull out of the race the following day.

Hushovd has had a difficult start to the season due to illness. He was originally scheduled to begin racing on February 3rd but was forced to scratch from the line-up for the Etoile de Besseges due to a cold. He struggled in the Volta ao Algarve, losing 50 minutes in three stages, and also withdrew on Saturday.

“The Norwegian seems incapable of defending his title in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad,” said the paper, which is well positioned to assess such matters, given its clear links to the race.

Steegmans also encountered problems in Portugal, falling heavily on Friday and hitting his head. "Gert spent the night from Friday to Saturday in the team hotel, on the advice of doctors,” sport director Dirk Demol told the newspaper. “They wanted to keep an eye on him after his heavy fall, which caused a strong concussion. It was a bad night. Gert was sick for a long time and also had diarrhoea again."

He flew back to his home in Monaco on Saturday and while he is feeling a bit better, cannot think about training until at least tomorrow. “Tuesday he may, if possible, begin cycling," said Demol. "But the Omloop [Het Nieuwsblad] and Kuurne are still questionable.”




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