Tom Boonen has admitted for the first time that he may not be able to ride the Tour de France this year due to a knee problem.
“I'm not now thinking of forfeiting the Tour de France, but if the pain comes back at the Belgian championship, we should seriously consider it,” he told the Belgian news agency Belga.
The Quick Step rider injured his left knee in a crash in the Amgen Tour of California and again in the Tour de Suisse. He abandoned the latter race on the penultimate day.
It was announced yesterday that Boonen would miss the Halle-Ingooigem race today, and that he would rest his knee before attempting to defend his Belgian road title on Sunday.
“I want to ride the finale of the Belgian championship Sunday to know where I stand,” he said.
"After the crash in the Tour of Switzerland I still feel a nagging pain in the left knee. It is quite annoying because no one knows where that discomfort comes from. There doesn't seem to be much I can do for it except some stretching. The worst is that I'm constantly think of it.”
This year's problem continues Boonen's difficult relationship with the Tour de France. In 2009. He was allowed to ride only by a last-minute sport court decision, after race organisers excluded him due to his out-of-competition positive tests for cocaine. He subsequently abandoned the race after stage 14 due to intestinal problems.
Boonen was barred from riding the Tour in 2008 due to another cocaine positive. He rode the race in 2007 and won the green jersey. In 2005 and 2006 he had to abandon the race due to illness or injuries.