Boonen attributes Tour abandon to virus

Belgian champion and former Tour green jersey quits

Tom Boonen abandoned the Tour de France Sunday morning in Pontarlier due to the effects of a virus. He said it stayed with him since the start of the race, through 14 stages.

"I was a wreck after yesterday's stage and last night I think the virus came out. I am dead sick now," Belgian champion Boonen said this morning.

Boonen arrived at the start of stage 15 with his Quick Step teammates and talked to the press outside the team bus. The stage to Verbier should be one of the decisive stages for the Tour's overall classification.

"I threw up three times on the bus this morning. I have pain in my muscles, in my head and when I stand up I feel dizzy," he said.

"During this Tour I was never bad, but I never felt at my best."

Boonen has six career stage wins at the Tour and the 2007 green sprinter's jersey. The highest he placed this year was 16th in stage 11 to Saint-Fargeau.

"You have to be 100% prepared for the Tour," said team director, Wilfried Peeters. "Even with someone who is in perfect order it is difficult to perform for three weeks, but Tom did not have the physical or mental preparations."

Boonen tested positive for cocaine April 27 and the Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) prohibited him from starting its race. A French court ordered the race to allow his participation only one day before the start in Monaco.

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