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Boonen: I almost lost my arm due to infection

By:
Cycling News
Published:
February 11, 2013, 11:43,
Updated:
February 11, 2013, 12:18
Edition:
Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, February 11, 2013
Race:
Tour of Oman
Tom Boonen sprints to victory at the Tour of Flanders

Tom Boonen sprints to victory at the Tour of Flanders

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Belgian back to racing in Oman

Tom Boonen was happy to finally make his season debut at the Tour of Oman on Monday after a difficult winter and his recent spell in hospital after an infection in his elbow.

Boonen spent almost a week in hospital in mid-January. He is relieved just to be healthy and racing again after risking the amputation of his arm.

"I'm happy…. I've still got my arm. That's a bit more important than having good form," he said before the start of stage one of the race, managing to joke about his problem but confirming that he was just eight hours away from far more serious consequences of the infection.

"That's what they told me, eight hours. If it hits the bone, the arm was gone and it was only a few millimetres from the bone. On the Friday there was nothing but then on Sunday they told me that if I hadn't done anything, Monday would have been too late."

Boonen thinks he picked up the infection at the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team presentation.

"Everybody has it on their skin but if it goes in your body and your wound closes and the crust forms, it starts breeding. Your elbow is probably the worst place to have it because there is no blood circulation. Otherwise the white cells kill it. But it had time to breed and got strong enough to attack the rest of my body."

He has traditionally ridden the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman as key preparation for the spring Classics. He peaked perfectly in 2012, going on to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. What he can do this spring after a stomach problem in December and then his recent time in hospital remains a mystery, even to Boonen.

"We'll see. Let's talk again in April. I want to do well and will do a lot of work but I have no idea what the infection did to my body. I've been training well but it has been a big assault on my body," he said.

"It changed everything. I'm normally already on a good level, trying to win races and stages. Now we'll see. There's still a lot of question marks but there's still enough time to erase them."

"I was in hospital for a week and that's only two weeks ago, so it's not long ago but my week of training felt good. Of course it (my form) is not like it was before but we'll see. There's still seven weeks to go (until the Tour of Flanders), that's a lot of time but it isn’t too. I did a lot of training before and was really good already, so I hope there's enough to buffer the illness."

 

StraussDieter More than 1 year ago
Sounds like someone wasn't taking care of his injection site.
Chris McCormick More than 1 year ago
What's the point of these guys winning races only to have people like you call them a doper? You have no proof or probable cause to think that - only your own skeptical view of anyone who is better than you think they should be. Who are you to put a cap on how much ability a person can have?
StraussDieter More than 1 year ago
Who are you to be so touchy? Are you actually Tom Boonen?
Old Derailleur-in-the-mist More than 1 year ago
CP has a point. Your post was funny but clean riders must be getting sick of this shzt.
el_guadzilla More than 1 year ago
Way to be classy - sit behind a computer and mock a rider who nearly lost his arm, and one of the few remaining hardmen of the modern era. You must be a real charmer.
StraussDieter More than 1 year ago
Oh yes poor professional cyclists. It's such a hard life getting paid millions to ride your bicycle and snort coke off the inner thigh of 16 year olds. I have a lot of respect for Boonen -- he's one of my favourite riders to watch and support. But if you think these guys are doing 50 kms in the wind over cobbles solo on bread, water, and sports drink you're being cutely naive. Also I might be *at* a computer, but I 'm not hiding behind it, "el_guadzilla". You can see my name attached to my comments.
bimmerfan More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge Boonen fan but I have to self soothe when I think about his Roubaix win. If it looks too good to be true it probably is.
el_guadzilla More than 1 year ago
This has been done to death. Crosswinds, inability to draft as well on cobbles, only 2 people pulling in the chase group. No different from Cancellara's assault (and no, not even Cancellara can ride away from a full chasing peloton under normal conditions). It has happened before in the Classics, it will happen again in the Classics. Classics != Grand Tours.
generic More than 1 year ago
The immune system and resilience of a doper is always weak.
Steveo More than 1 year ago
nob.
flythebike More than 1 year ago
WOW I'm sure Boonen deserves as much suspicion as goes along with cycling but those infections are no joke, give him a little quarter. Besides, the only thing we know for sure is that the infection wasn't in his nose...
dolande More than 1 year ago
I got the same kind of infection. I got due to a fall while roller skating, no major injure but my elbow got like a baseball in just a couple of days
bimmerfan More than 1 year ago
Check your spell checker, it thought you typed "roller skating".
Jack Kasza More than 1 year ago
He meant "disco roller skating"
Clockel More than 1 year ago
It does suck that all people can say anymore about this wonderful sport is that all riders dope. But, thanks to guys like Armstrong and the rest of that era we have this issue. But I do not think Boonen is a doper nor got this infection from an injection site. Riding at this level can weaken immune systems. Have you ever been on a plane twice in a week flying halfway across the world literally?
Steveo More than 1 year ago
It makes me wonder why some people watch cycling at all. When Boonen was away on his own, 50 odd K from the end of Roubaix, I spent the rest of the race in a glow of admiration, willing him on. What a performance! Likewise, when Cancellara won in a similar style a few years earlier. Great cycling, great champions. Made me want to go out and ride! I find it hard to believe that some watch these rides and all they are thinking is; oh, he must be on drugs, etc. It sickens me, it really does. Throwing around careless accusations in the comfort of your bedroom. Enough of the snipers, please.
el_guadzilla More than 1 year ago
Well said! Boonen is one of the classiest riders in the pro peloton - one tough SOB, and also one of the most sporting. Maybe he dopes, maybe he doesnt, but the peanut gallery sitting here passing judgement isnt fit to hold his sweaty chamois.
Donovan Jackson More than 1 year ago
Watching these frauds makes me want to quit cycling. However, the exposure of all the dirt lately has me riding my bike more than I have for 2 years. That's inspirational.
VAM1000 More than 1 year ago
Just imagine a one armed pro cyclist. He could use electric shifting and would need a crazy strong core body but wouldn't be slowed down by the extra weight and drag from the arm.
BadScreenWrtr More than 1 year ago
Boonen spent a week in the hospital over this infection. He's very lucky it wasn't MRSA or they would have taken muscle out as well. When you usually treat a deep abscess it's a simple a I&D (incision and drain) and prescribe some oral antibiotics to take at home. So I'm guessing this was far more serious and perhaps required IV antibiotics? I'm glad to hear that he didn't get osteomyelitis from this and he keeps his arm.
Billy Nunya More than 1 year ago
I fell last year on a rail trail at the start of a long ride. Elbow was ripped wide open, filled with dirt and pebbles, dripping blood. I squited it with my water bottle and rode 45 miles. Scrubbed it out in the shower when I got home and hit it with a disinfectant/second skin. I was fine. Was I lucky, or do I just have a strong/normal immune system?
Rae N. More than 1 year ago
Lucky! and the bleeding actually probably helped, plus the good scrubbing.
Old Derailleur-in-the-mist More than 1 year ago
You were lucky..... or at least not UNlucky. All depends on the microbe present in the soil and where it gets to. (and of course how well you irrigate the wound. And anyone who's trained to depletion will tell you how that can affect the immune system.
Old Derailleur-in-the-mist More than 1 year ago
Bleeding helps too...immediate irrigation
Billy Nunya More than 1 year ago
Thanks for the replies. I did scrub the heck out of it, and hitting it with the disinfectant was excruciating. I did spray it with 3/4 of a water bottle within about 30 seconds of the crash....... Next time I'll turn around instead of finishing the ride.
Rae N. More than 1 year ago
Can't assume needle was involved here; I have seen people in septic shock from infected elbow who never had more than a bump--no open wound at all. It is not as uncommon as you would think, either.