Gert Steegmans (Katusha) will not ride in the Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday, and could face surgery. The Belgian is suffering from back pains that have extended to his left leg.
Despite his physical problems, Steegmans lined up for the Brabantse Pijl yesterday, but it was merely so his team could even start the race - six riders are required - he told Belgian paper La Dernière Heure.
Steegmans rode on one kilometre before turning around. "I have had this pain since the Tour Down Under," he said. "I will stop riding now until we can find the exact reason for this so that I can have an efficient treatment. We will do some scans on Tuesday. The doctors I consulted think it's an inflamed nerve."
The healing process is not quite clear yet. "Maybe some medication will do, but in the worst case a surgery may be necessary."
Despite not having an exact diagnosis, Steegmans was certain he will miss the Tour of Flanders. "It's not worth doing it in the state that I am currently in. In training everything is fine, but as soon as I have to follow the race rhythm, I lose all my power in my left leg."
"It starts with tingling in my thigh, then my muscles harden. The pain becomes so bad that I think my thigh will explode."
After Dwars door Vlaanderen last Wednesday it was particularly bad. "On Thursday night I could hardly walk."