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LIDO DI CAMAIORE, Italy (VN) — Fabian Cancellara wanted his long-time rival Tom Boonen to race in the upcoming classics, not to sit at home recovering from a crash that happened in Monday’s Paris-Nice stage.
“I was getting a massage when I heard that Tom [Boonen] had crashed and abandoned in Paris-Nice,” the Swiss of team Trek Factory Racing said.
“I didn’t see it on TV, but I knew that he crashed hard. Two things: He’s my rival, but more than that, he’s a person. It’s a big pity that it happens to him. He should have some luck on his side after the crashes and seasons that he had in the past.”
Boonen crashed with 16 kilometers to race in the 192-kilometer stage to Contres. The race continued; Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the stage and Boonen’s teammate Michal Kwiatkowski held the overall leader’s yellow jersey. Boonen, however, sat on the ground in his Etixx-Quick-Step kit and nursed his left arm.
The medics and his team rushed him to the hospital, where doctors ruled him out of the classics. This morning, the team announced that he fractured his elbow and would have to have surgery to fix the AC joint dislocation in his left shoulder.
Boonen said in those quick two seconds on the ground, before the examinations, he knew that he would have to miss the classics from Milano-Sanremo on March 22 to Paris-Roubaix, April 19. Boonen’s palmarès includes three victories in the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) and four in Paris-Roubaix.
“But all of a sudden there was a hold-up. I had to do a brake maneuver, but while braking you cannot steer your wheel as you normally do. I touched my teammate, Nikolas Maes’s wheel and crashed,” Boonen said in a press release Tuesday.
“In two seconds I realized that my classics season was over. I imagined it differently and I was ready for the classics. But I can’t change what happened, and it is something I need to accept.”
The 34-year-old Belgian from near Antwerp had proved that he was on track for the classics by placing third in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad behind Sky’s Ian Stannard, but his plans changed only two days into Paris-Nice.
Boonen and Cancellara dominated the classics over the last 10 years. Between them, they count 13 wins in Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix combined. Some years, they went head to head, but in others, one had to sit at home.
Cancellara crashed in Ronde in 2012 and abandoned with a fractured collarbone. A year later, in 2013, Boonen crashed in Gent-Wevelgem and early into Ronde, which forced him to abandon and to miss Roubaix on the following Sunday.
The tête-à-tête Boonen/Cancellara rivalry continued in 2014, but Boonen was a bit behind after his wife miscarried, and he had to skip races and training. Cancellara won the Ronde and placed third in Paris-Roubaix.
Cancellara wanted to see Boonen again this spring on the cobbled roads of Northern France.
“When I heard about it, I felt bad myself,” Cancellara continued. “I prefer that he’s on his bike and that he’s in the classics. I prefer that he’s there, to have him and his team, tactic-wise, it’s better.
“I hope he recovers quickly. I wish Tom well.”
Doctors will determine Boonen’s recovery time after his surgery tomorrow morning.