Boonen set to leave hospital, will skip Qatar

Classics king should head home Thursday following elbow surgery, but will miss his season-opener at the Tour of Qatar

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is recovering well and expected to return home this week after undergoing surgery to treat an infection in his elbow on Sunday.

Boonen suffered a septic infection to his left elbow bursa after a mountain bike crash. Omega Pharma officials said on Wednesday they expected his to leave the hospital on Thursday. Boonen can return to easy riding on Sunday after three days of complete rest, but the surgery will require him to skip the Tour of Qatar.

“I’m happy the situation now is improving even if I am still weak,” Boonen said in a press release. “To have news released I can go home is good because it was a difficult moment for me and my family. Unfortunately I won’t be in Tour of Qatar, one of my favorites races, as I decided with the team that it is too early. I feel sorry for Eddy Merckx and the race organization there. Everybody knows how much I like this race, but I really can’t make it.”

Boonen hopes to return in time to make a run at the northern classics where he swept all four of the major cobbled events in 2012.

“First, I need to recover 100 percent physically and then start training again to see how things go,” he said. “I will look into the best schedule to prepare for the classics at the end of next week, and then I will decide with the team which will be the best approach.”