Boonen suffering with illness ahead of Belgian Championships

Etixx-QuickStep rider withdraws from time trial with Sunday's road race in mind

Tom Boonen’s build-up to the Belgian National Championships road race has been compromised by a respiratory infection. The Etixx-QuickStep rider has withdrawn from Thursday’s time trial and will make a final decision in the coming days on his participation in Sunday’s road race.

Boonen placed 34th in Halle-Ingooigem on Wednesday, 17 seconds down on winner Dries De Bondt (Verandas Willems) and admitted afterwards that he had struggled during the race.

“It’s not going too well. I still have power but my breathing isn’t as it should be. In any case, I won’t ride the Belgian time trial championship on Thursday,” Boonen said after the race, according to RTBF. “I’m going to try to recover in the next three days. I thought it was going to be ok in the last few days but now I’m going to see what I’m going to do.”

Etixx-QuickStep directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters downplayed the idea that Boonen might be forced out of the entire national championships through illness.

“He’s suffering from light respiratory problems. But it’s nothing serious, he just doesn’t feel 100 percent,” Peeters said. “And when Tom takes the start of a race, he wants to perform, and not just go through the motions. He’s taking a bit of a rest so as not to put his participation in the road race in danger.”

Boonen has competed at the Tour of California and Ster ZLM Toer since resuming competitive action following his usual post-Classics break. The Belgian is not in Etixx-QuickStep’s Tour de France team – he hasn’t competed in the race since 2011 – and the latter part of his campaign is likely to be focused on the World Championships road race in Qatar.

The 35-year-old’s contract expires at the end of this season, but after narrowly missing out on victory at Paris-Roubaix in April, Boonen confirmed his desire to continue in the professional peloton in 2017.

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