Boonen out of the Tour de France

Tom Boonen announced Friday that knee problems have forced him to rule out a defense of his Belgian national champion’s jersey as well as this year’s Tour de France.

According to a statement issued by the former world champion’s Quick Step team, Boonen has been diagnosed with patellar tendinitis on his left knee, a problem that apparently began with a crash at this year’s Tour of California and was exacerbated with a finish line crash at the Tour of Switzerland.

Boonen was also a victim of that now-infamous crash in Switzerland.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Boonen. “After three days of rest, yesterday I trained for five hours on the parcour of the national championship in Leuven. The knee pain has always accompanied me. During the last hour of training I had to stop more than once because of the pain.”

“I’m very disappointed for me, for the team and the sponsors and for all the fans who were waiting for me on the roads especially in the (Tour’s) passage trough Belgium,” said Boonen. “My next goal now is to work 100 percent to recover well and try to make a good final of the season.”

“It’s really terrible news for us,” said Quick Step Patrick Lefevere. “The Tour passes through the Netherlands and Belgium. The team will ride for four days on the roads near home. Even the stage of Arenberg was very important for us considering the characteristics of our team and the palmares of Boonen on the cobblestones races.”

Lefevere said the team will pick Boonen’s replacement on Monday, following professional national championsip races in Europe on Sunday.