Johan Vansummeren announced on Wednesday that he is to retire from professional cycling after being diagnosed with a heart anomaly.
During an emotional press conference near his home in Lommel, Belgium, the 35-year-old said that he would draw his 13-year pro career to a close. He was accompanied by his wife Jasmine during the announcement, with both being reduced to tears.
“I am really sad to stop my career because of medical reasons but my health is more important than cycling ambitions,” Vansummeren said in a statement issued by his Ag2r team.
“Over the last few months I have done many medical tests. Then, two surgical interventions put a name on my health issue.”
The heart issue was detected during the Tour of Oman in February during a routine medical check. Vansummeren withdrew from racing, and subsequently missed the entire classic season as he underwent further medical examinations.
“From now, my state of health requires repeated health check and forced me to end career. I spent 13 exceptional seasons in professional cycling that allowed me to make a living from my passion.
“I did tremendous physical efforts to ride among the best riders as well. I even had the benefit to win Paris-Roubaix which was the race I dreamt of. For sure, this victory will remain as my best memory in professional cycling.”
Ag2r team manager Vincent Lavenu paid tribute to Vansummeren, saying: “I am really sorry to know that Johan has to leave our team in such conditions.
“It is never easy for a rider to put an end to his career due to medical reasons but, doubtlessly, there is no other choice to make. He has to protect his personal health above all. To me Johan in a top rider and a man who has great human qualities.
“It was an honour to count him among our team during two seasons. I wish to my friend the best for his recovery and his new career.”
Vansummeren started his career with Relax-Bodysol in 2004, before moving to Davitamon-Lotto in 2005, Garmin-Transitions in 2010 and Ag2r in 2015. In addition to his Paris-Roubaix victory, Vansummeren won the Tour of Poland overall in 2007. He participated in nine editions of the Tour de France between 2005 and 2015.