Seems like before the teams start rolling in, we should make a space to talk about who's injured or otherwise unavailable. I'm not equipped to make a comprehensive list on my own, but I'll get it started and you guys can help fill it out.
- Alessandro Ballan, BMC: He actually underwent a second surgery over the weekend, but it was comparatively minor (versus his initial prognosis) and he remains on track for a mid-summer return... maybe. When you're coming off of a ruptured spleen, broken femur, broken rib and other assorted niceties, the timetable can be a little imprecise. Hopefully he'll be back in time to score a few points, but one should keep expectations in check.
- Johnny Hoogerland, Vacansoleil: Not known for his great luck, Hoogerland was struck by a car in training and suffered five broken ribs, several damaged vertebrae and a bruised liver. He got the green light yesterday to come back to the Netherlands (accident happened in Spain) so that's a good sign. But I doubt we will see him back in action before May.
- Luis Leon Sanchez, Blanco: Not injured, but as his name has come up in the Operacion Puerto trial in Madrid, Blanco have parked him in the garage until things are cleared up. Sure, we're talking about getting cleared from a case that was opened in 2005 and is just now coming to trial. But clearing dopers can sometimes be on a faster track than convicting them. And when it comes to respecting the presumption of innocence, the people in the Spanish cycledoping world have not been found wanting.
- Bram Tankink, Blanco: Broken collarbone. Subtract a month.
- Karsten Kroon, Saxo Bank: Gashed his thigh on someone's chainring in Qatar, leaving a horrific cut that will shelve him for three months. Should be serviceable late in the season.
- Tom Boonen, OPQS: Got an infected wound in his elbow, the sort of thing that most cyclists wouldn't even mention to the press. [Well, except for the part about how if he'd waited another 8 hours they would have had to amputate his arm.] But since it's Tommeke, and we're not just counting on him to be strong but to have that little something extra in his legs to be the big winner, well, take his messed up January under advisement.
- Frank Schleck, RadioShackTrek: Suspended til July 13. This means no Tour de France, where he has excelled, but he's a lot less likely to crash himself out of competition in the meantime, right?
- Marco Pinotti, BMC: Crashed a week ago in a time trial, breaking two ribs and injuring -- but not breaking -- his collarbone. Sounds like he'll be slow starting but maybe not too far behind.