Omega Pharma-QuickStep pushes ahead towards Paris-Roubaix on Sunday without defending champion, Tom Boonen. Due to a crash in the Tour of Flanders, he is taking a break and the team will race for Sylvain Chavanel.

“Life is going on with or without Tom,” team boss, Patrick Lefevere told Cycling Weekly. “We have a good team, 18 victories already thanks to several different riders. Everyone is racing for Mark Cavendish today in Scheldeprijs. Sunday will be different without Tom, but we have Sylvain Chavanel, who is in good shape.”

Boonen crashed only 19 kilometres into the team’s biggest race of the season, the Tour of Flanders. He bruised his body, but fortunately came away without fractures.

After a hospital visit, the Belgian Champion returned home to Mol. He watched Flanders on television, but said that he would not do the same for Roubaix. He explained that it is just too painful.

Chavanel and Terpstra

Lefevere looks to France’s Sylvain Chavanel and Dutch Champion Niki Terpstra to lead through the Hell of the North. Doubts remain, however. In Flanders, Terpstra suffered and Chavanel was unable to follow Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan.

“It was very difficult for Sylvain to show himself because the race was very closed for a long time. When the moment came, when Fabian accelerated, only Sagan could follow and the others were dropped,” Lefevere (pictured right) continued.

“Sylvain’s normal style is to anticipate, but look at his good results from Milan-San Remo on. His victory in Paris-Nice, his win in the Three Days of De Panne. He could not attack before because the others would react.

“Will he lead our Roubaix team? Yes. And I hope to recover Terpstra because he had a really bad day in Flanders.”

Last year, when Boonen won his fourth title in Roubaix, Chavanel placed 27th.

California bound

Boonen rests at home this week and then will go on vacation. According to Lefevere, he may possibly return in the Tour of California.

Not only is he suffering physically, but mentally. Since the off-season, he dealt with many different blows: intestinal problems, elbow infection, Ghent-Wevelgem crash and Flanders abandon.

“I’ve had many different setbacks in my 12 years of racing,” Boonen said in a pre-Flanders press conference. “There have been a few bad runs like this.”

“He’s doing well, I called him in these last days and Wilfried Peeters visited him. His hip is already better. His knee is all blue, with stitches,” Lefevere continued.

“After his vacation, we will come up with his programme. We will not rush it and probably have him start in California.”

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Tom Boonen crashes out of Tour of Flanders