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BRUSSELS (AFP) — Tom Boonen has declined to take part in this summer’s 100th Tour de France, he told the Belga news agency on Tuesday.
The former green jersey of the Tour, 32, said that he may never ride another edition of the race.
“Will I take part in another Tour? The chance is very low,” Boonen said, according to Belga. “Maybe I will never return.”
Boonen has participated in six editions of the Tour (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2011), but has had mix fortunes in the race. Boonen has six career stage wins and won the maillot vert in 2007. He abandoned due to crashes in 2005, withdrew on the Col du Lautaret in 2006, exited because of illness in 2009, and left the race following a head injury in 2011. Boonen missed the 2008 Tour due to a positive control for cocaine, the 2010 Tour with knee tendonitis. and the 2012 Tour in order to prepare for the Olympic Games.
Omega Pharma boss Patrick Lefevere said that he “did not want to force (a) rider” to take part in the race.
“I do not want to force it. A rider who fears a three-week race, do not force him to change his mind,” said Lefevere. “I would have preferred to see him starting in Corsica. For advertising, it would have been a serious bonus. It will be otherwise.”
Instead of the Tour, Boonen will race the Tour de Wallonie (July 20-24) and the Tour of Poland (July 27-August 3).
Mark Cavendish had hoped that Boonen would start the Tour and help him to stage wins in the bunch finishes.
“Would I have been the perfect teammate for Mark?” said Boonen. “I think it would be crazy to undermine the current train that works well in the Giro.”
IVREA, Italy (VN) — One of the key men of confidence for overall leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) in this Giro d’Italia, Tanel Kangert, got the green light to attack on Tuesday and nearly broke through with a stage 16 win.
The 26-year-old Estonian is hardly known beyond the peloton, but he’s earning well-deserved attention so far through this Giro. Kangert has been one of the strongest and most consistent riders for Astana, and he came within a few pedal strokes of victory in Tuesday’s transition stage to Ivrea.
Kangert, who hails from the same hometown as the sport’s other top Estonian rider, Rein Taaramae, told VeloNews that the team is pushing into the final decisive moments of the Giro with its confidence higher than ever.
“I hope Nibali is doing just as good as he’s done in the last two weeks. The team is strong, and we have some guys coming back from illness,” Kangert told VeloNews at the start in Valloire. “Everyone is ready for the final fight.”
At 5-foot-10 and 145 pounds, Kangert has emerged as one of three key lieutenants for Nibali in the mountains of the 96th Giro. Along with Valerio Agnoli and Fabio Aru, Kangert is one of the men Nibali has counted on come crunch time.
“I haven’t had a grand tour where I have been performing so well. I hope to be well in the last week. I hope to keep going into the final week,” said Kangert. “We all want to be up to the level to help Vincenzo.”
Behind the scenes, Kangert said Nibali has quietly grown into the leadership role at Astana.
After racing several seasons with Liquigas, Nibali came to the Kazakhstan-backed squad, bringing a few key men along with him. Kangert said Nibali was remaining calm after two weeks of stressful racing on technical roads and in poor weather conditions.
“He is a natural leader. He is very calm and relaxed. He is not yelling at anyone. He gives us confidence on the team,” he said. “It’s no big surprise for us how well he’s doing during this Giro. It shouldn’t be a surprise for anyone because he’s shown over the past few years that he is a quality rider. He has shown that he is a three-week racer. We have prepared for this Giro starting back in November.”
Kangert, meanwhile, is stepping up in his third season with Astana. After racing on the French amateur scene, he turned pro with Ag2r La Mondiale in 2008. A knee injury almost derailed his career, but Astana gave him a second chance in 2011.
Last year, he won the Estonian national road title as well as a stage at the Tour de Suisse. He was third in the stage 8 individual time trial, but Kangert said his future remains as a domestique.
“I am not a climbing specialist, nor a time trialist. I do a bit of everything,” he explained. “I will have the same role in the team for the next few years. It’s not a bad thing to be a supporting rider for someone like Nibali. This is a good team for me right now. I have one more year with Astana.”
On Tuesday, Kangert had freedom to cover the moves on the technical finishing circuit in Ivrea. Once again, it was part of his job.
“Tanel had freedom to attack today,” Nibali said. “It was good to have the time bonuses.”
Kangert might have been the strongest in the group, but he mis-timed his sprint and lost out to Beñat Intxausti (Movistar).
Tomorrow, it’s back to helping Nibali.
“What we’re most concerned about is the weather,” he said. “We’re not expecting for big improvements in the weather. We just have to accept it. When you have bad rain from start to end, there is big suffering. No one is comfortable. Those are the days you have to survive. The rain is ok; we can accept that. If there is snow, then the race organizers have to do something. It’s too dangerous.”
- The full results for Momentum Racing's O'Fallon Cup Criterium are attached.
Thank you again to everyone who came out to race, and enjoy the park.
The weather was perfect, and everyone seemed to have a great day.
Hope to see you all, and hopefully more, next year.
- Alex Grant (Salt Lake City, Utah/Sho-Air - Cannondale) and Monique andquot;Puaandquot; Mata (Yucaipa, Calif./Sho-Air - Cannondale) both came away victorious at Sundayand#39;s opening round of the USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Ultra-Endurance Tour (Pro UET), the US Cup - Sagebrush Safari 50 held in Lake Morena, Calif.
- The USA Cycling National Track Calendar began its 2013 edition at The Superdrome in Frisco, Texas, at the Matrix Cup p/b Richardson Bike Mart. Endurance riders competed in the points race, scratch race and individual pursuit while sprinters vied for points in the match sprint and time trial. After the weekend of racing, several familiar names surfaced atop the standings.
Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) abandoned the Giro d’Italia during Tuesday’s 16th stage. The American, who wore the maglia rosa in 2012, withdrew from the race after suffering through illness, knee pain, and saddle sores during the three-week race.
Phinney wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that he’d been afflicted with an infection for almost a week:
I’ve been battling an infection for around 5 days now. Today I had to be smart and look after myself. Broke my heart to abandon this #Giro.
The BMC Racing strongman rode through pain in his right knee, allergies, and illness earlier in the race to support second overall Cadel Evans. He had hoped to finish the race on Sunday, but Phinney called it quits after the race’s second rest day.
The USA Cycling Professional Road National Championships take place Saturday through Monday in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Having abandoned the Giro, which doesn’t finish until Sunday in Brescia, Phinney, the 2010 U.S. time trial champion, would need an exemption from the sport’s world governing body, the UCI, to take part in the TT national championship. Despite his illness, Phinney would enter the race a favorite, with the absence of defending champion David Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp), who fractured his clavicle in a crash at the Amgen Tour of California on Friday.
Editor’s Note: This video is courtesy of Global Cycling Network. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily represent the opinions of VeloNews.com, Velo magazine or the editors and staff of Competitor Group, Inc.