Tom Boonen 2008 Qatar

Both Quick Step and Liquigas have confirmed that their leading sprinters Tom Boonen and Daniele Bennati will not take part in this year?s Tour de France.

As widely expected, Boonen was not named in the Quick Step team announced on Thursday afternoon because of his out of competition positive for cocaine.

Team manager Patrick Lefevere tried to convince the Tour organizers to let Boonen ride but when they back down he opted for a diplomatic solution and decided not to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Boonen will ride Sunday?s Belgian national championships and then the Tour of Austria and the Tour de Wallonie.

?Obviously I?m very disappointed to miss the start of the Tour because I know how much this race means to my team, my sponsors and all my fans,? Boonen said in a statement issued by Quick Step.

?Next year I?m going to come back even more motivated to try again for the green jersey. Now I?m going to give my best in every race I participate in, starting with the National Championship on Sunday. The season is not over yet by any means and fortunately I still have a lot of challenges ahead, from la Vuelta in Spain to the World Championship in Varese which takes place on a parcour I really like?.

Boonen?s understudy Gert Steegmans will now be Quick Step?s lead sprinter even if he struggled during the recent Tour of Switzerland.

Tour of Flanders winner Stijn Devolder will be Quick Step?s best hope for overall success but he took a battering in Switzerland and his confidence must be severely dented.

Quick Step team: Carlos Barredo, Matteo Carrara, Stijn Devolder, Steven De Jongh, Sebastien Rosseler, Gert Steegmans, Matteo Tosatto, Kevin Van Impe and Jurgen Van de Walle.


Liquigas confirmed that Bennati will also miss the Tour de France on Thursday when they announced their starting nine.

The Tuscany sprinter won three stages in the Giro d?Italia but ended the race with an achilles tendon problem and has failed to recover in time for the Tour de France.

Bennati won two stages last year, including the final stage in Paris but will now have to try and recover in time for the Vuelta in September. It his second major injury of the season after a knee problem stopped him racing for most of the spring.

?I?m really gutted to miss the Tour,? Bennati said.

?Unfortunately the strain of the Giro has caused my left leg to suffer, which is the one that had slightly less training because I injured it at the start of the year. I?ve spoken with the team and we all agree that it?s better to rest now and not risk the end of the season.?

Liquigas' hopes in the sprints now depend on Italy?s Francesco Chicchi and Brazilian Murilo Fischer.

Also in the team are Filippo Pozzato, Manuel Quinziato, Frederik Willems, Manuel Beltran and Aliaksandr Kuchynski.

Recent Tour of Switzerland winner Roman Kreuziger and Vincenzo Nibali will focus on the overall classification, especially targeting the best young rider?s white jersey.

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