Benoot will return for Strade Bianche title defence

Lotto Soudal say knee injury from Omloop crash has healed

The knee injury he suffered in a crash at Omloop het Nieuwsblad will not prevent Tiesj Benoot from defending his Strade Bianche title Saturday in Italy, according to a Twitter post today from Lotto Soudal.

"Good news!@TiesjBenoot is ready to defend his @StradeBianche title next Saturday; his knee injury is healed after his crash @OmloopHNB!" the team wrote.

Benoot's participation in the Italian one-day race was called into question after a fall in Omloop re-opened a wound in his knee that had not properly healed since a crash on stage 7 of the Vuelta a España last year.

The 24-year-old Belgian was riding well at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad after returning from a two-week altitude training camp at Sierra Nevada. Benoot made the first major selection on the Molenberg climb in a group of 18 riders at 40km from the finish, but just 10 kilometres later his race was over when he slipped out in a left-hand corner.

The knee injury forced Benoot to skip Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, and team manager Marc Sergeant told Cyclingnews that the injury might force him to miss Strade Bianche as well so as to aid his recovery for other races down the road.

"We’ll make a decision on Strade Bianche on Thursday, most likely," Sergeant told Cyclingnews Monday in Belgium. "It’s a long campaign, though, and we can’t take the risk for just one race.

"It’s also a dirty race, but in his mind, as the former winner, he wants to participate," Sergeant said. "We need to be honest, though, with ourselves and he needs to be prepared to give it up, if necessary." 

Benoot will not have to give up the race with today's decision. Benoot won the race in spectacular fashion last year in an especially cold and wet edition. The Belgian Attacked from a large chasing group in between the eighth and ninth sectors of the white gravel roads and made his way to the leading duo of Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Wout van Aert (Veranda's Willems Crelan).

He accelerated away on the final gravel sector, building a lead that allowed him to celebrate well ahead of the finish line in Siena's Piazza del Campo.

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