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Boonen out of Tour de France

Tom Boonen has ruled himself out of this year's Tour de France and Sunday's Belgian National Championship due to patellar tendonitis in his left knee. He took the decision in consultation with Quick Step medical staff after a series of tests in Herentals today.

"I'm very sad," Boonen said. "After three days of rest, yesterday I trained for five hours on the route of the National Championship in Leuven. The knee pain was always there. During the last hour of training I had to stop more than once because of the pain."

Boonen's woes began with his crash in the Tour of California, and the problem was exacerbated by a fall in the Tour de Suisse.

It will be a particular disappointment for the Belgian to miss out on riding on home roads during the Tour's opening stages. "I'm very sorry for myself, for the team and the sponsors and for all the fans who were waiting for me on the roads especially in the passage through Belgium. My next goal now is to work 100 percent to recover well and try to make a good final of the season."

Team Manager Patrick Lefevere was equally disappointed. "The team will ride for four days on the roads near home [during the Tour]. The Arenberg stage was very important for us considering the characteristics of our team and Boonen's record in cobbled races. But we can't stop, life goes on. I'm sure the team that will participate in the Tour will do the best even without Tom. The negative moments often open up many opportunities."

This latest setback continues Boonen's miserable run of luck with the Tour in recent years. Last year he abandoned without winning a stage, while in 2008 he was prevented from starting following a positive test for cocaine.

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