Bäckstedt out for the classics

Swedish riders Magnus Bäckstedt (Liquigas-Bianchi) will miss the rest of the classics due to a tendon injury. Doctors have ordered him to rest for a full month before resuming training, and he will not be able to take part in his favourite April races.

The problems started when he crashed in the Challenge Illes Baleares in February. Initial diagnosis of the injury was an inflamed tendon and he continued to train and race - albeit sporadically and in a substantial amount of pain. Bäckstedt did Tirreno-Adriatico, then lined up for Milan-San Remo, where he rode for almost 200 kilometres in support of his team leader Luca Paolini. But his knee locked up during the race, and he was unable to go any further.

After returning home to the UK and having undergone an MRI scan, ultrasounds and assessments by both doctors in England and Italy, Bäckstedt reported, "Doctors have told me that the tendon behind my left knee has a split in it. My main hamstring muscle has been compensating for it and I was close to tearing this from the bone. Luckily we caught it in time and I now have a month of recuperation ahead of me."

Following his victory in the Paris Roubaix classic in 2004, Bäckstedt was the Liquigas squad's leader for the northern classics and his absence now leaves a void in the team. "I am hugely disappointed for my teammates, my team sponsors and my fans. Nothing even comes close to trying to describe the emotional roller coaster that I have been on over the last month or so.

"Anyone who knows me will testify what a total professional I am. I prepared so well for this season, I was lighter, fitter and stronger than I have ever been in my career. I have done it once this year, I can do it again! I will rest and gradually build back up to be competitive for the Tour de France and the second half of the season," he concluded.

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