Frederik Willems doubtful for Flanders
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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Frederik Willems doubtful for Flanders

by Ben Atkins at 10:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders

Liquigas-Doimo’s classics captain Frederik Willems is now a doubt for Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen after suffering from pain in his knee. Starting the Three Days of De Panne with dossard number 1 as last year’s winner, the only Belgian on the Italian squad has had to finish his race early. He finished safely in one of the main groups in yesterday’s first stage into Oudenaarde, 2’15” behind stage winner Steve Chainel (Bbox Bouyges Telecom), but decided not to carry on during stage 2 this morning.

"After Gent-Wevelgem suddenly got a pain in my left knee,” he told the Belgian press this morning. “I was treated this Monday and the first stage of the Driedaagse went well up until the end; but then suddenly the pain came back."

With the pain too strong to race today, Willems is also keen not to put the weekend’s big race in jeopardy. If his knee fails to improve he may not make the start of the Ronde, the biggest target of the year for any Belgian rider. "I chose to still ride the second stage,” he explained, “but had too much pain and put the brakes on. I am now waiting to see how it develops and hope that the healing process is well under way. Otherwise, my Ronde is in danger."

Willems is due to ride this Sunday’s race in a Liquigas team that includes sprinter Daniele Bennati and Manuel Quinziato. If the Belgian is fit they will be confident of challenging the big teams of local favourites, such as Quick Step and OmegaPharma-Lotto.


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