Belgian rider suffering from heart problem dies in his sleep, aged 26

The elite rider was due to undergo tests to discover if he could ever race again

(Image credit: Universal Images Group via Getty)

A Belgian rider suffering heart problems died in his sleep while on holiday in Tenerife.

Joren Touquet had been forced to stop racing earlier this year after he was diagnosed with a heard condition.

In April, the 26-year-old found himself struggling in races unexpectedly and after undergoing tests doctors said Touquet must stop racing immediately.

Luc Courtens, manager of Touquet’s team Decock-Van Eyck-Devos-Dapoen, said: “We are all in shock. At first there was disbelief but we have to face the tough reality – Jorgen is no longer with us.”

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On April 13, Touquet rode to a fourth place during a race in his home town of Wevelgem, but told the team he wasn’t feeling well.

Then five days later he was forced to pulled out after two laps, struggling to recover.

Touquet went for a cardiogram and was told he was not allowed to make hard efforts, and was expected to undergo further medical tests to see if he would ever be able to compete again.

After working for the team as a mechanic and caretaker off the bike, he went on holiday in Tenerife with his girlfriend Elisabeth Vermeersch.

When his girlfriend woke on Tuesday morning (June 18), she realised Touquet would not move.

Touquet previously rode for the Continental Vérandas Willems team, which was struck by tragedy at the 2018 Paris-Roubaix.

Belgian rider Michael Goolaerts suffered a cardiac arrest during the race and died in hospital hours later.

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Veranda’s Willems-Crelan said that the 23-year-old had suffered a cardiac arrest, receiving emergency treatment from medical staff at the scene. He was then transferred by helicopter to hospital in Lille for further treatment.

However the team later confirmed that Goolaerts had died in hospital surrounded by friends and family.

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