Saved by a doping test: The pro rider treated for cancer after abnormal blood result

When his team doctor called about an abnormal test result, Torstein Træen could not believe what was happening – but it would turn out to be a potentially life-saving red flag

Torstein Træen cresting a hill on his bike
(Image credit: Getty)

This article was originally published in Cycling Weekly's print edition as part of the long-running MY FITNESS CHALLENGE series.

It was May 2022 and Torstein Træen was in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain tucking into a big breakfast with his Uno-X Pro Cycling team-mates. The date has stuck in his mind. “It was Friday the 13th – we were joking with each other that something bad was going to happen today,” remembers the 27-year-old Norwegian, speaking to me by phone from a winter training camp in Altea, Spain. Træen recalls the exact moment when, while walking back to his room to get ready for the day’s ride, his phone rang. It was Knut Rønning, the team’s doctor. “He asked me if I had read the email in my inbox, and I was like, ‘yeah, yeah’.” But Træen had skimmed over it, missing the email’s significance. Rønning spelled it out: “You’ve returned a positive for hCG from the Volta a Catalunya.” 

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Chris Marshall-Bell

A freelance sports journalist and podcaster, you'll mostly find Chris's byline attached to news scoops, profile interviews and feature writing across a variety of different publications. He has been writing regularly for Cycling Weekly since 2013.

Previously a ski, hiking and cycling guide in a number of places, but mostly in the Canadian Rockies and Spanish Pyrenees, he almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.

He lives in Valencia, Spain.