Tour of California: No fractures for Boonen, expected to continue race
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Tour of California: No fractures for Boonen, expected to continue race

by Conal Andrews at 7:37 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of California
 
Belgian lucky to escape serious injury

Despite falling heavily during yesterday’s opening stage of the Amgen Tour of California, Tom Boonen has been confirmed has having no fractures and should be able to continue in the race.

The Quick Step rider was looking forward to the chance to square up against Mark Cavendish (HTC Columbia) and other sprint rivals, but fell heavily to the ground inside the final kilometre of stage one. He landed badly, shredding his shorts and jersey, and initially suspected that he might have broken his collarbone.

However a subsequent check-up in hospital showed that his injuries are limited to cuts and bruising.

"Someone from Liqugas hit Tom’s front wheel,” team director Wilfriend Peeters said to Sporza. “Tom has severe abrasions and sustained bruising to his buttocks and back. It was a heavy fall, his helmet was damaged. Fortunately, he has not broken anything and that is what matters.”

The images of him being pushed to the line were not good to see, but Peeters believes that there is a good chance that the former world champion will continue in the race.

“We must wait until after this night. He will be stiff and the days ahead will not be easy, but he wants to ride. He wasn’t happy [about what happened].”

Boonen has made a strong return to form this year, netting second in Milan San Remo and the Tour of Flanders, fifth in Paris-Roubaix and winning stages in Tirreno Adriatico, the Tour of Oman and the Tour of Qatar. His sprinting speed is back and while he said last year that he considered focussing on time trialing instead, he has rediscovered his finishing kick.

Whether or not that is enough to beat Cavendish remains to be seen. The Briton took yesterday’s stage, but didn’t open much of a gap on the second-placed rider, Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo Bank). He admitted afterwards that he is less dominant than before, due to not being in top condition.

"Yes, I went 100% in the sprint today,” he said, referring to his previous statements that he didn’t have to give it everything to win sprints in last year’s Tour de France. “I'm not near the top of form. I'm good for this time of year. It doesn't matter whether I win by three bike lengths or half a meter.”

Boonen’s target had been to take a stage victory in California. Peeters was asked if that was still possible, but didn’t commit. “The main thing is that he lets his injuries heal, and gets through this race.”

Today’s second stage of the race is a hiller 176 kilometres from Davis to Santa Rosa and is not expected to lead to a bunch sprint.

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