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Belgian champion Tom Boonen leads his Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammates up the Taaienberg.
Opts for shorter French race instead of Tour of California
Tom Boonen has swapped the Tour de Picardie for the Tour of California. Instead of making his comeback in the US, the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider has chosen to travel to northern France instead, for a shorter and easier return to the peloton.
Boonen suffered various injuries when he hit a road sign early in the Tour of Flanders the end of March. He was originally scheduled to ride in California, but earlier this week it was announced that he was not sufficiently recovered to race there.
On Wednesday the team announced that the former world champion would take to the start of Picardie on Friday. That is a three-day race over 532 kilometers with few climbs and expected mass sprints in each stage.
“My crash at Ronde van Vlaanderen was quite serious and it took a while to recover,” said Boonen on the team's website. “I still have pain on my hip and my back, but day-by-day the situation is getting better, and I can train regularly. The fact is that Tour of California is a great race, but it is longer and you have to be fit for this reason, as well as the challenging parcours.”
The shorter race length and reduced travel time also recommended Picardie. “Tom started training with the right intensity only in the last two weeks," said sport director Wilfried Peeters. “We consider this one the best way to get Tom into the race rhythm and give him a few more days to tune up his condition after the short French stage race.”