Boonen ready to lead Quick.Step in Ronde

Tom Boonen is putting on a brave face in the lead up to the Ronde van Vlaanderen, despite crashing...

Tom Boonen is putting on a brave face in the lead up to the Ronde van Vlaanderen, despite crashing in stage 1 of the Driedaagse van De Panne and receiving three stitches in one of his fingers. "The injury is OK and is not bothering me too much," said Boonen at a press conference after the morning stage of the Driedaagse. "I still have pain when I'm on the cobbles, but not of the type that will stop me riding fast this Sunday."

Boonen will have to do without Paolo Bettini, as the experienced Italian wasn't able to train hard enough this week because of the after effects of the throat infection that forced him to pull out of the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali. "I have recovered fully, but I am still too weak to take part in such a difficult race like the Ronde Van Vlaanderen," said Bettini. "It's a shame as I really like the race but I have no option as I need to be in top form for the second part of the classics."

Quick Step for the Ronde van Vlaanderen: Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Kevin Hulsmans, Marc Lotz, Nick Nuyens, Filippo Pozzato, Servais Knaven and Bram Tankink.

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