Boonen out of Tour de l'Ain

Belgian champion to return at Vattenfall

Tom Boonen will not race the Tour de l'Ain, due to a longer than expected recovery from the virus that saw him abandon the Tour de France.

The Quick Step sprinter had been scheduled to start the Tour de l'Ain on Sunday as part of his preparations for  the Vuelta a España. However, directeur sportif Rik Verbrugghe told het Laaste Nieuws that Boonen will not be sufficiently prepared for the four-day race.

"There is nothing wrong," said Verbrugghe. "It's just a little too early for him to ride in a race as heavy as de l'Ain."

This year's Tour de l'Ain features two big days in the Alps. Stage three features two category 1 climbs, while the final stage will see the peloton race up the hors category Col du Colombiere.

Verbrugghe said that Boonen, who has been competing in post-Tour criteriums, will return to top level racing at the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg on August 16. He will then complete his preparations for the Vuelta at the Eneco Tour of Benelux, August 18 to 25.

The Vuelta a España will be an important race for Boonen. Despite claiming the Belgian championships in June, he performed below expectations at the Tour de France. His best result was 16th place on stage 11. He with withdrew from the French Grand Tour on July 18, prior to stage 15.

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