Defending Tour of Flanders champion Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma QuickStep) crashed out of the race after just 19km, suffering injuries that have ruled him out of Paris-Roubaix and so virtually ending his Spring classics campaign.
The three time Ronde winner was taken to hospital but x-rays revealed he did not have any fractures. Boonen fell on his left side, injuring his left knee, elbow and hip but he was able to board the ambulance without assistance.
"I was behind Stijn (Vandenbergh) and we were riding on the side of the group," Boonen said in a statement from his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team.
"The speed was really high. The peloton swung a bit on the left and we were following, when suddenly I hit a plastic sign on the road. In a moment I went on the ground. I couldn't even breathe at the beginning. I understood immediately that something wasn't good. I had pain especially on the left side of my body. Then I saw also a deep wound on my right knee and I understood that my race was over."
In agreement with the team medical staff, it was decided that Boonen won't ride Paris-Roubaix.
"It's really not an option" Boonen said.
"It's hard to renounce a race like that, but I really can't ride. I have a lot of pain and in the next days for sure it won't be better. Unfortunately 2013 is not really my year, not my number. I had too much troubles this year and than this. Now I really have to be careful with my physical problems. The elbow and the hip are really swollen and painful, all the left part of my body is sore."
Omega Pharma-Quickstep team manager Patrick Lefevre confirmed the news to Sporza.
“Riding Paris-Roubaix with stitches isn’t a good idea. To be ready for Paris-Roubaix he needs to train 250km tomorrow or the day after. That’s not possible. He’s had a lot of bad luck ever since December,” Lefevre said.