Injury woes have again hit the Milram ProTour team, with the outfit announcing both Artur Gajek and Martin Velits will be sidelined. The duo join team captain Erik Zabel and Ralf Grabsch on the injured list.
A painful bruise on Gajek's buttocks is keeping him from riding, forcing him to take a 10 day training break. Slovakian Velits, the twin brother of U23 World Champion Peter, has been diagnosed with a break in his right wrist, which requires surgery.
"Martin will be operated on in Slovakia as soon as possible," said team manager Gerry van Gerwen. "We won't be able to count on him again until the end of August.
"It's not that bad for Gajek," he added. "He ought to be able to race again the end of May."
Gajek hit the hard pavement in Istanbul during the Tour of Turkey's opening prologue. Velits crashed onto his right hand during the Ronde van Vlaanderen and after riding a number of races with pain, x-rays provided the final diagnosis for the 23 year-old.
"It is like we are hexed," said the 55 year-old van Gerwen. "Our string of injuries just keeps getting longer and is causing us difficulties. Despite our personnel problems we will try to get the maximum for everyone – for the riders, the race organizers and our sponsors."
The team's sprinter Alessandro Petacchi had to cancel his start in the Giro d'Italia at the weekend, as he's yet to recover fully from a severe case of bronchitis. Zabel had to skip the two Classics Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Rund um den Henninger Turm following a crash, and is preparing to ride his second Giro starting Saturday.
All-rounder Grabsch also had to take a break because of knee problems and will start Monday in the Neuseen Classics.