Belgian champion Tom Boonen will not take part in the Tour of Qatar this year, his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team announced today. Boonen underwent surgery on Sunday to clean out an infection in his left elbow which had become septic. He is scheduled to leave the hospital in Herentals tomorrow, and according to his team his health has improved. He no longer has a fever or pain in his elbow.
This additional delay means Boonen will not travel to the Tour of Qatar, and his team has yet to announce when he will make his season start.
"I'm happy the situation now is improving even if I am still weak," Boonen said. "To have news released I can go home is good because it was a difficult moment for me and my family. Unfortunately I won't be in Tour of Qatar, one of my favorites races, as I decided with the team that it is too early. I feel sorry for Eddy Merckx and the race organization there. Everybody knows how much I like this race, but I really can't make it. First, I need to recover 100 percent physically and then start training again to see how things go. I will look into the best schedule to prepare for the Classics at the end of next week, and then I will decide with the team which will be the best approach."