No Het Volk for Backstedt

After a winter that presented no major health problems, Sweden's Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas-Bianchi) has been fighting his way back after an innocuous crash in the first stage of the Challenge Illes Balears left him with a strained tendon in his left knee. Despite earlier reports, he will not be riding Het Volk on Saturday.

Backstedt said, "It was one of those crashes that as a pro bike rider we go through all the time, but I must have come down harder than I thought."

The big Liquigas rider got back up to finish the stage, but was unable to start the remainder of the race do to the pain in his knee. "The initial diagnosis was that I had just tweaked something and I was cleared to ride two days later. After only a few kilometres I was just in agony."

Subsequent visits to the chiropractor and British Olympic Medical Centre in London showed no major damage, but a build up of scar tissue on the tendon. "I have managed a few rides up to four hours, but the tendon has just been so sore the next day. I haven't been able to string enough days together to be ready for Het Volk and Kuurne Brussels Kuurne. I can't jeopardise the rest of the classics by going into these races under prepared. I am having physiotherapy everyday and have been ordered to have complete rest until Sunday. I'm feeling better and better every day.

"I will start training again on Monday with Tirreno-Adriatico in mind. I will just aim to ride through that and regain the form that I had going into the season"

The big Swede has come into 2006 eight kilograms lighter than at the same time in previous seasons, but through carefully controlled training has maintained his power. "I feel that with the extra weight gone it will open up a whole new range of races that I could be competitive in, but Paris - Roubaix will always be my focus," he concluded.

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