Roger Kluge had heart surgery in October to reduce the chances of the German suffering another stroke.
The Lotto-Soudal rider was treated for a permanently open foramen ovale – a small opening between the two atria of the heart – in ealy October in Antwerp, Belgium after Kluge had suffered a minor stroke in March 2018.
This small opening in the atria should grow in the heart of every person when they’re a baby but it doesn’t for a quarter of people.
Kluge has not encountered any health problems since his stroke and although his condition, called a PFO detect, is not considered to be problematic it does increase the risk of stroke.
Therefore, Lotto-Soudal team doctor Jens De Decker advising him to have the operation.
“The surgery went well,” Kluge told Radsport News. “I could have hidden that and felt no difference.”
The 33-year-old said the minor stroke happened when he was looking after his daughter back in early 2018, when he was still racing for Mitchelton-Scott.
“I went to clean my daughter’s nose and in that moment my arm fell down slowly and I could not counter it,” Kluge said. “It was scary, it was over after 30 seconds.”
The rider was then withdrawn from a number of spring Classics as a precaution and wore a pacemaker for three days, also undergoing blood tests.
Two weeks later, however, he raced in Paris-Roubaix, where 23-year-old Belgian rider Michael Goolaerts died after suffering cardiac arrest.
The procedure forced the track and road rider to not only end his road season early but also miss out on both the European Track Championships and Six Day London, although he returned to the track at the Glasgow Track World Cup and is currently racing in the Ghent Six Day.