Despite Robbie McEwen's decision not to start Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne last Sunday, the Katusha sprinter will continue with his planned race schedule at this weekend's Montepaschi Strade Bianche (Eroica Toscana).
McEwen chose to withdraw from Kuurne after banging his left knee heavily on his handlebars in the early stages of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. It was the same knee which the Australian shattered at last year's Tour of Belgium.
"About 12 or 15 kilometres into the race there was nearly a crash," McEwen told Cyclingnews on Tuesday. "Two riders almost came down and one of them ended up on top of my handlebars, which flicked them around and into my knee.
"It hurt a lot straight away when I tried to pedal. I went back to the race doctor's car, they gave me some paracetamol for the pain, but I think the biggest benefit was just to hang on to the car until I could pedal again."
Although not listed on official results, McEwen did finish the 204-kilometre event. However, swelling around his knee prompted a decision to return home, rather than risk further damage on Sunday. It was a decision that was given further credence as wild storms across Belgium saw only 26 riders' names recorded at the finish line in Kuurne.
"I finished [Omloop Het Nieuwsblad] but the knee was pretty bruised and swollen so I made the call not to start in Kuurne," he said. "When I saw the weather it definitely turned out to be a good decision. It was one of those special days when only the guys who are good in the cold were finishing, and even some of those pulled out."
After surgery and a long lay-off last season McEwen, 37, is understandably vigilant about his left knee. His wholesale return to competition this season got off to a strong start last month when he took his first European win since last August on the opening day of the 2010 Challenge Mallorca.
McEwen doesn't expect the latest hiccup to cause undue interruption and has already ridden since last weekend. He will travel to Italy this week for a scheduled rendezvous at the Montepaschi Strade Bianche (March 6), Tirreno-Adriatico (March 10-16) and Milano-Sanremo (March 20).
"[After last year] I've become cautious about my knee. I've been out training today and I'll just be careful with it and make sure it settles down."