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Etixx: Boonen’s hearing loss will not impact racing season

Tom Boonen confirmed to Belgian media that he’s suffered minor hearing loss due to his crash at the Abu Dhabi Tour, but Etixx-Quick-Step team doctors say it will not impact his upcoming racing season.

The veteran classics star told Het Nieuwsblad he’s lost partial hearing in his left ear as a result of his high-impact crash in early October that momentarily knocked him out and resulted in bleeding from of the ear.

Those comments raised questions of how it might affect his ability to safely negotiate the bunch, but team officials Wednesday downplayed any implications for Boonen’s upcoming racing season.

“Due to the crash, he suffered a small hearing loss, but this is improving, and absolutely will not affect his performance,” an Etixx-Quick-Step official said. “He is still improving, and it could get even better in the coming weeks and months.”

The comments came during an informal chat organized by the Belgian daily between Boonen and Belgian racecar driver Stoffel Vandoorne, a backup driver for Formula 1 team McLaren Honda. Boonen recounted his crash that resulted in a temporal fracture, and kept him in the United Arab Emirates for more than two weeks before he could fly.

“I lost part of my hearing, and it’s permanent,” Boonen said. “It’s annoying, but you get accustomed to it.”

Boonen, 35, said he is otherwise fully recovered from the incident, and has been training without difficulties since late November. Doctors had initially warned he could be sidelined for up to six months, potentially putting his 2016 classics season in danger, but his quick recovery bodes well for a possible final showdown with Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo), who is retiring at the end of 2016.

Etixx-Quick-Step team officials said Boonen’s 2016 racing schedule will be confirmed early next month.

In the same story, Boonen also confirmed he would like to dedicate his future to car racing after he retires from cycling. Boonen is a big auto-racing fan, and often hits the Zolder racing track with Etixx teammate Stijn Vandenbergh.

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