The Etixx-Quickstep team announced today that Tom Boonen, in addition to suffering a grade 3 dislocation of his shoulder, has also fractured his left elbow as a result of a crash on stage 1 of Paris-Nice on Monday, but the team denied that the injury could lead to a premature end to Boonen's career.
The non-displaced elbow fracture was discovered after Boonen was feeling pain in his arm overnight. Examinations in the clinic of Herentals this morning by Doctor Joris Van Roy and Doctor Toon Claes revealed a non-displaced fracture to head of the radius.
While Boonen will have surgery by Doctor Claes for his shoulder tomorrow, the elbow will only be treated with a cast.
"I’m really disappointed, for the third time in a row something unfortunate happened that affected the Classics," Boonen said. "Every time because of different circumstances. It was a stupid crash with big consequences at Paris-Nice yesterday. We were with four teammates in the back and had just brought our jackets to the car, and as others in the peloton were doing, we took a nature break for the last time before heading back to the front. That was the plan for us. The stage was very easy, long roads, and nobody was nervous. But all of a sudden there was a hold up. I had to do a brake maneuver, but while braking you cannot steer yas you normally do. I touched my teammate Nikolas Maes' wheel and crashed. In two seconds I realized that my Classics season was over. I imagined it differently and I was ready for the Classics. But I can't change what happened and it is something I need to accept."
Team director Wilfried Peeters denied that the injury could bring Boonen's career to an end, but said it would have a big impact on the team for the Classics.
"Riding the Classics with or without Boonen is a big difference," Peeters told Sporza. "You can't replace Boonen. It would be like Trek riding without Cancellara in the Tour of Flanders.
"Of course we have other assets, but those other guys win more easily with Tom in the squad than without him. He is someone who brings calm to the team really helps. The pressure for those other guys will now be much higher."
Peeters sees Boonen coming back from the injury this year, however. "This is not the end of his career. Champions like Tom don't quit, otherwise you're not a champion. He will come back. I'm sure he does not want to close his career like this."
"Tom also knows that he can race 10 more years. That will play in his head. He can get over this injury, I'm convinced of that, although it will not be easy mentally. But he certainly is not thinking of stopping."