Starting his season after lengthy delays Tom Boonen could be happy with his fifth-place on the first stage at Tour of Oman. Despite contesting the sprint and his apparent ease back into the rhythm of racing his condition is far from optimal, according to Omega Pharma - Quick-Step doctor Yvan Van Mol.
Boonen underwent surgery for an infected elbow in January and has been steadily building for his first race at Oman and while he finished in fifth on the opening day, more should not be expected from the current Belgian road champion.
"The infection has been removed and the arm has fourteen stitches. So it makes sense that Tom is currently riding with pain. Local - to the elbow - and conditionally he will continue to suffer this nuisance," explained van Mol on nieuwsblad.be.
After a troubling end to last season, where the multiple-time Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders champion was hospitalised with an intestinal infection, Boonen appears content to back in the peloton. His bout of "stomach flu" caused him to skip a team building camp in late 2012 and while he had seemingly recovered, his planned season debut at Tour de San Luis was put on hold so he could concentrate on training.
His infected elbow has slowed his official start to the year but Boonen has been able to return to a good training load, completing more than 1,000km during a week-long training camp prior to his Oman campaign. His first day was not easy at Oman with the OPQS rider informing the press he will need more time to find the best condition ahead of the spring classics.
"I have suffered all day," said Boonen. "You know that whining. At the elbow and the forearm. I always feel that warmth in my hands. During the sprint I had no problems, but was at a slow pace.
"There are currently many question marks, but there is still plenty of time for that to erase. There are still seven weeks to go to the Tour of Flanders. I suggest that we meet speak again in April."