Tom Boonen's 2013 season has suffered another minor setback, after the Belgian Classics rider underwent a minor operation in his left elbow, forcing him to take antibiotics and spend several days in hospital.
The Omega Pharma – Quick Step squad revealed the news in a press release, as his teammates were racing the opening stage of the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. Boonen was replaced by Mark Cavendish in the race after spending three days in hospital in late November due to a severe intestinal infection.
Boonen is currently recovering in a clinic in Herentals but considers himself lucky the infection did not cause more serious problems. The need to operate was sparked by bacteria entering Boonen's body through a small cut on his left elbow, which he suffered after an apparently harmless accident that happened on Sunday, while training on his mountain bike in some woods near his home.
"I fell on my left elbow. I didn't even think about it, it was just a little scrape to the elbow, which I cleaned and disinfected once I got back home. During the week everything was going well, I wasn't having any problems. Then suddenly on Saturday, January 19th, my elbow started swelling. I started to get concerned and so together with the team medical staff I decided to go to the hospital in Herentals," Boonen explained in the press release.
"After specific checks and therapy and a prescription of some antibiotics I went home. The following morning I went back to the hospital for a check up. When the doctors saw how swollen my arm was they immediately decided to operate. I have to thank the medical staff who understood right away that the infection was spreading, and who organized things to solve the problem in no time."
"That was a really close call for me. Now, fortunately, the situation is improving. Now I want to recuperate as soon as possible and then next week I'll be thinking again about my training and competitive schedule. Of course, this problem couldn't have come at a worse time, what with the upcoming Classics."
Boonen was expected to make his 2013 season debut in the Tour of Qatar but that now seems unlikely, with the team promising a new race schedule will be released in the next few days.