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Steegmans hopes for pain-free return

Gert Steegmans (Katusha)

Gert Steegmans (Katusha) (Image credit: Bert Geerts)

Belgium's Gert Steegmans will return to racing on home turf later today at the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen. Steegmans has been struggling for form throughout the European Spring so far, and has complained of a lack of power due to leg problems. The complaint began during January's Tour Down Under, and has prevented him preparing well for the Spring Classics.

The Katusha rider will be supporting teammate Robbie McEwen. Given the working relationship the duo cultivated during their time at Predictor-Lotto, the Australian stands a chance of grabbing win number three for 2009 in the part of Belgium where he's regarded as a local.

"I have been training for two weeks, but unfortunately I've had to see many doctors," Steegmans told Sporza. "Hopefully I will have no pain by Wednesday.

"If it continues it would be a nightmare, and something is wrong with my veins. But the training has gone well, so I'm happy."

If he can overcome this setback in the race around the Schelde it will greatly enhance the chances of victory for McEwen, who is a favourite in this part of Belgium. He will be hoping for a win to add to the one he took in the Cancer Council Classic in January and the second round of the Mallorca Challenge, the Trofeo Cala Millor, in February.

McEwen won the Scheldeprijs in 2002, and with the absence of Mark Cavendish many are predicting a return to days gone by with a McEwen-Petacchi duel on Wednesday.

Also see our Scheldeprijs preview.

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