Naesen fit for opening weekend despite broken nose

'It's annoying but won't make me ride any slower' says Belgian champion

Oliver Naesen has been diagnosed with a broken nose after a crash at the Ruta del Sol, though the Belgian champion says it won't hold him back for the 'opening weekend' of racing in Belgium, where he will lead the AG2R La Mondiale team. 

Naesen crashed on the penultimate stage of the Spanish race on Saturday, falling on his face. 

At first he thought he thought he had just suffered facial contusions but when the pain in his nose didn't subside he went for scans at hospital in Belgium, according to local broadcaster TV Oost. Those scans revealed a straight break in the nasal bone.

No surgery was necessary and Naesen said he'll be unhindered this weekend in the first Classics outing of 2018 at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday. 

"It is annoying, but I will not ride one kilometre per hour slower," Naesen told TV Oost. 

"It only bothers me when I put my glasses on. You can compare it with a stuffy nose. No need to make more of it than it actually is."

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne are important early tests for Naesen, a rising star of the Classics. 

Last year he finished in the top 10 in both, before going on to finish sixth at Dwars door Vlaanderen and third at E3-Harelbeke. He was with Peter Sagan and Greg Van Avermaet, closing in on Philippe Gilbert, in the finale of the Tour of Flanders, only to be taken out by a freak crash. 

Naesen, who became Belgian champion last June, leads the AG2R La Mondiale squad at the opening weekend, with Stijn Vandenbergh and Alexis Gougeard acting as back-up. Silvan Dillier, Julien Duval, Nico Denz and Gediminas Bagdonas will provide support.

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