With much speculation over the last few days to whether Tom Boonen would be able to take part in the forthcoming World Championships, it has been confirmed that he will not be taking part this year. Boonen had to suspend training 2 hours into a planned 3 hour session on Thursday due to the pain coming from his right knee. After consultation with the QUICK STEP team and Carlo Bomans (the Belgian team manager), it has been decided the risks are too great for the team's Classics superstar.

'This was a painful decision to have to make – unfortunately I’m not able to give continuity and intensity to the work I’d have to do in light of the World Championships,' explained Boonen. 'I am extremely disappointed that I’ll not be able to defend my country’s flag at Stuttgart. I prefer to leave my place to an athlete who is able to give more guarantees to the national team than I can at present. Unfortunately my season finishes here. If I were to race then I’d only risk making my knee worse, which could also lead to jeopardising my preparation for the following season. This will change the plans for both the Belgian national team, and I am sure a few other teams will have taken note.'

Will this give Bettini his chance to do the double? With a course profile reminiscent of the Amstel Gold Race, it could well suit him, as long as other Italian stars like Damiano Cunego are willing to give up their chance of glory.