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Already facing a big battle himself to try to be ready for the Tour de France, Marcel Kittel’s prospects of taking more stage wins have run into an additional complications with the news that team-mate Tom Veelers will be forced to miss the race.
The German’s Giant-Alpecin team has confirmed that the Dutchman will not be able to line out in the Tour. The issue is a knee injury he suffered at the beginning of the year, a complication which already prevented him from starting the Tour de Romandie and the Giro d’Italia.
“Obviously I am very disappointed to be unable to start in the Tour de France, since I was really looking forward to this year’s start in my home country,” he stated, referring to the Grand Depart in Utrecht.
Veelers’ bid to be ready for the Tour saw him undergo keyhole surgery in April. He said that once this happened he understood there was a chance he would miss the Tour, but that he and the team had worked hard to try to ensure a quick recovery.
However that didn’t pan out as well as he hoped and now a difficult decision has been taken.
“We have cancelled my participation in a couple of races already, and it has become clear that the Tour is not within reach either,” he said. “So together with the team’s medical staff, we decided it was best for me to get off the bike and rest and recover. I will continue to work with the physio but not compete in races for a while.”
He will also miss this Sunday’s Rund um Köln in Germany, with the team being down one man as a result. The Ster ZLM Toer has also been ruled out.
“Tom is recovering from keyhole surgery to repair a small cartilage imperfection,” said team physician Anko Boelens. “When he is free of pain the team will determine the best opportunity for him to return to competition.”
Veelers is regarded as an important part of Kittel’s sprint train.
His team leader has clocked up eight stage wins in the past two years, but has had a very difficult season thus far in 2015. He has been affected by a virus and has missed much of his racing calendar. His Tour participation is still not definite.