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Backstedt's injury worries continue

Liquigas' big Swede Magnus Backstedt continues to suffer from the effects of a fall during the Challenge Illes Balears series in Spain, and with the cause of the injury yet to be ascertained, the prospect of Backstedt challenging for wins during spring looks to be in jeopardy.

"As a professional rider it's not if you fall off, it's when and how badly," Backstedt said recently, but after good winter preparations Liquigas' man for the classics had been looking forward to a strong start to 2006. The fall in Spain looked like a fairly regular crash, and early diagnosis of the injury was positive so he was back on his bike for the GP Lucca and Tirreno Adriatico. "For me to stand any chance of getting to peak fitness for the classics I had to get through the full race at Tirreno," said Backstedt. "I had some really good days, but also some where I was just in agony."

He underwent further treatment before last Saturday's Milan-San Remo, and he started in Milan with a positive outlook, only to be struck by the effects of the injury more than halfway through the race. "For the first 185km I was cruising, pedalling along nicely and doing the job for the boys. Within five pedal strokes my knee locked up and I was in total agony," he said.

Backstedt is now undergoing further diagnosis to find out the root cause of the injury, saying, "I've consulted various experts in the field and will have an MRI scan - from that I can start possible treatment this week." One of the peloton's biggest riders, and after winning Paris-Roubaix in 2004, Backstedt's focus is obviously on the classics, where he'll once again test his luck and form on the cobbles. "My main focus is to get back on my bike and back to competition as soon as possible," he said. "I still have a window to get back in shape and be fully competitive for the classics, but day by day this window is getting smaller."

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