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"The knee is still slightly swollen and it hurts, but I really have to work on my racing rhythm this week as well, prior to the Ronde. We'll take it day by day and see how I feel," Boonen says

Photo: OPQS / Tim de Waele

DRIEDAAGSE DE PANNE

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GERT STEEGMANS

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GUILLAUME VAN KEIRSBULCK

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ILJO KEISSE

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MARK CAVENDISH

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NIKI TERPSTRA

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NIKOLAS MAES

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QUICK-STEP FLOORS

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SYLVAIN CHAVANEL

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25.03.2013 @ 19:06 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

A stroke of fear surged through the Belgian cycling fans when Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) crashed out of yesterday's Gent-Wevelgem. Having escaped major injuries, the Belgian returns to racing tomorrow in the Driedaagse van de Panne.

 

Tom Boonen's preparation for his big objectives of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix has been a constant battle against time to make of for lost training and racing in the early part of the season where illness and elbow surgery kept him sidelined twice.

 

In the last three seasons, he has skipped the traditional final race ahead of the Tour of Flanders, the Driedaagse de Panne which starts tomorrow. However, his lack of racing kilometres forced him to include the often crash-marred event in his calendar this year.

 

With his crash in yesterday's Gent-Wevelgem, many feared that the Belgian champion would lose another build-up race in his preparation for in title defence on Sunday, but the Belgian was able to train on his hometrainer this morning, and he will stick to his original plan.

 

 "The knee is still slightly swollen and it hurts, but I really have to work on my racing rhythm this week as well, prior to the Ronde," Boonen explains. "We'll take it day by day and see how I feel."

 

Chavanel to defend title

With Boonen only using the race as preparation, he is likely to abandon the race before its conclusion Thursday afternoon. However, that does not mean that his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team enters one of the most prestigious Belgian stage races without ambitions.

 

Defending champion Sylvain Chavanel returns this year, and the Frenchman enters the event as the huge favourite. He is perfectly suited to the course, and his results throughout the spring have proved his blistering condition.

 

Furthermore, sprinter Mark Cavendish will try to forget yesterday's disappointment in Gent-Wevelgem where his team failed to bring back the final escape, and he will target success in the bunch kicks throughout the race. With the Manxman climbing extremely well, he may even challenge in tomorrow's first stage in the Flemish Ardennes.

 

They will be joined by the team's third captain for the cobbled classics, Niki Terpstra. The Dutch champion seems to have mistimed his build-up slightly, and he hopes that three days of hard racing can get him back on track ahead of his major objectives.

 

The team is completed by lead-out man Gert Steegmans and strong classics riders Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Nikolas Maes and Iljo Keisse to build-up a formidable squad for the type of racing that awaits this week.

 

Starting tomorrow at 14.45, you can follow all the action on CyclingQuotes.com/live. Until then, you can prepare by studying our preview.

 

Omega Pharma-Quick Step for the Driedaagse van de Panne

Tom Boonen, Mark Cavendish, Sylvain Chavanel, Niki Terpstra, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Nikolas Maes, Iljo Keisse and Gert Steegmans

 

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