Swedish Liquigas-Bianchi professional cyclist Magnus äackstedt has been dealt a crushing blow to his 2006 season when his doctors ordered him to rest for a minimum of four weeks.

Bäckstedt was brought off in a crash at the Challenge Illes Baleares in February. Initial diagnosis of the injury was an inflamed tendon and he continued to train and race albeit sporadically and in a substantial amount of pain.

The tough seasoned pro raced through a week of tough competition at the Tirreno Adriatico stage race in Italy and followed this up with almost two hundred kilometres of support riding at the Milan San Remo.

Within a few pedal strokes in San Remo Bäckstedts knee locked up and he was in total agony. After returning home to the UK and having undergone an MRI scan, ultrasounds and assessments by both doctors in England and Italy, the news has not been good.

"Doctors have told me that the tendon behind my left knee has a split in it. My main hamstring muscle has been compensating for it and I was close to tearing this from the bone. Luckily we caught it in time and I now have a month of recuperation ahead of me"

Following his victory in the Paris Roubaix classic in 2004, B├Ąckstedt was the Liquigas squad's leader for the northern classics and his absence now leaves a void in the Italian team.

"I am hugely disappointed for my team mates, my team sponsors and my fans. Nothing even comes close to trying to describe the emotional roller coaster that I have been on over the last month or so. Anyone who knows me will testify what a total professional I am. I prepared so well for this season, I was lighter, fitter and stronger than I have ever been in my career. I have done it once this year, I can do it again! I will rest and gradually build back up to be competitive for the Tour de France and the second half of the season" he concluded.

Once again RCUK's best wishes go to Magnus for his recovery.