The Omega Pharma-QuickStep team is another man down after sprint specialist Gert Steegmans broke his thumb in a training crash.
The Belgian was set to help Mark Cavendish in the Volta ao Algarve starting tomorrow, but will now be replaced by Frantisek Rabon.
“I was riding back towards Monaco after training and simulating some sprints. In a split second, I ended up on the ground,” Steegmans said. “Right away I could tell there was something wrong with my right hand. So I went to the hospital, and they diagnosed a fracture to my thumb. Fortunately, I was wearing winter gloves and so I avoided further complications."
It is only the most recent setback for the Belgian squad. Nikolas Maes is still recuperating from a broken collarbone, Gianluca Brambilla is ill and Tom Boonen suffered training setbacks due to an intestinal infection last fall and a septic wound on his elbow in January. The Belgian champion is currently getting up to speed in the Tour of Oman, but refuses to discuss the infection which could have led to his arm being amputated had the infection not been treated promptly.
“Thank you everyone for the support,” Boonen said on Twitter. “If there is any news to report on my elbow and my form level I will do this as soon as possible. In the meantime please do not ask me about it, there are other things in life than my elbow :) thanks!”
In true Twitter fashion, an account was quickly created under the nomiker “Tom Boonen’s Elbow” and responded, “Please address all enquiries about the elbow of @tomboonen1 to me. Dank u.”