CHATEAUROUX, France (AFP) – Belgium’s 2005 world road race champion Tom Boonen, injured after crashing on Wednesday, quit the Tour de France during Friday’s seventh stage.
The 30 year old was one of five Quick Step riders to hit the deck in the fifth-stage run to Cap Frehel as strong winds and narrow roads took their toll, leaving him with scrapes all down his right side.
Boonen got off his bike 127 kilometers from the finish on Friday and climbed into his sporting director’s car.
After his mid-week accident he had said he had been hoping to make it to Monday’s rest day.
He retires placed 167th in the overall standings, almost 19 minutes behind leader Thor Hushovd.
Boonen, who has a contract until 2013 with Quick Step, was bidding to add to his six stage career wins in the Tour and attempting to regain the points winners green jersey he won in 2007.
“Yesterday just after the arrival I felt good, it felt like everything was going to be resolved soon,” said Boonen. “But in the evening I started feeling worse. Last night I hardly slept, I had a headache and pain in my back and shoulders. This morning I tried getting back on my bike anyway. But during the race I wasn’t lucid, I didn’t feel safe. My head started spinning and I couldn’t keep my concentration. I hung out towards the back of the group but it was too dangerous to continue in these conditions, for me as well as for the rest of the group.”
“I’m very disappointed, I prepared well for this Tour and I think I could have definitely had some chances to go for it. The Tour is like that, the first week is always complicated to interpret, but I like this race and I’ll be back. Now I want to recuperate as best I can and reconsider my schedule for the following weeks. The work I did to get in shape for this Tour will come back to me and be useful in the near future.”