Belgian Johan Vansummeren, 2011 Paris-Roubaix winner, will miss this weekend’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne due to a heart problem. France’s Ag2r La Mondiale team stopped him after the second stage in the Tour of Oman on Wednesday due to recurring problems.
The team announced that the 35-year-old is undergoing medical examinations in Belgium without saying when, or if, he could return to action.
“It was a team decision,” Vansummeren told Het Nieuwsblad newspaper. “They thought it was better that I don’t start [this weekend] due to how it was going.”
The team noticed a problem at the second training camp in early January in Spain. The doctor suggested that he have his heart examined further when he returned home. He did and received a green light to start the Tour of Qatar in preparation for this spring’s classics.
Qatar went well, but after two days in Oman, Vansummeren’s Middle East trip was called short and his classics season put in doubt.
“It did not go how I wanted in Oman,” he said. “I didn’t have any power in my legs. That’s why I will again consult several specialists in the coming days. Both the team and I definitely want to know what’s wrong.”
He already visited his doctor in Belgium and began riding again with an easy spin on Sunday, but does not have the green light to race.
“We have to pay special attention to Johan Vansummeren’s case,” Eric Bouvat, team medical director said in a press statement later in the day. “We can assure you every possible effort will be made to protect him. His health is our top priority”.
“I am really disappointed because the classics were one of my main season’s objectives,” Vansummeren added. “But on the other hand, we are talking about heart defects therefore it is essential to do additional examinations. I do not want to take any risks because I need to be as healthy as possible to start competition again.”
Vansummeren powered his six-foot-five body to a solo Paris-Roubaix victory, 19 seconds ahead of Cancellara, five years ago. He proposed to his fiancée afterwards inside the Roubaix velodrome.
Australian Michael Rogers (Tinkoff) has also been dealing with heart issues in the last months. The 36-year-old missed the Tour Down Under and withdrew after two stages in the Dubai Tour this month.