Bart Wellens rushed to intensive care with heart problems
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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bart Wellens rushed to intensive care with heart problems

by Ben Atkins at 5:43 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, National Championships, Injury
Former World and Belgian champion transferred to Antwerp Hospital and now reportedly out of danger

bart wellensBart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) has been taken to the intensive care unit of the University Hospital of Antwerp after suffering from problems with his heart, Het Nieuwsblad reports. The 33-year-old was preparing for today’s Belgian cyclocross championships in Hooglede-Gits, where he was an outsider to take a third title, when a fever he was suffering from suddenly worsened.

He was initially taken to hospital in nearby Geel, Telenet-Fidea manager Hans Van Kasteren told a hastily arranged press conference this morning, but when his temperature rose to around 39-40 degrees (102-104 fahrenheit) he was taken to the bigger hospital in Antwerp.

“His body temperature rose to nearly 40 degrees at 10 o’clock Saturday night," explained Van Kasteren. "When we realised how serious it was and we took Bart to the hospital in Geel, where was the situation was under control immediately.

"At half past three at night Bart also had pains in his heart,” Van Kasteren continued. “Because in the past have lost a rider [Tim Pauwels, brother of Kevin – ed], we took no risks and we had Bart transferred to the University Hospital of Antwerp.

“It was a situation where we just feared for Bart's life," added the visibly emotional Telenet-Fidea manager.

Wellens is reportedly now out of danger, but remains in the intensive care unit and will obviously miss this afternoon’s race.

Wellens has been plagued with health problems and injuries since suffering from Cytomegalovirus in the summer of 2009. He had recently enjoyed a return to something like the top form of previous years however, taking victory in the Essen round of the Gazet van Antwerpen (GvA) Trofee series in mid-December, and finishing third to his old rival Sven Nys, in the latter’s GP on New Year’s Day; he was considered to have a good chance of at least taking a medal in today’s race.

Perhaps because of his health problems of the past few years, Wellens’ current condition was dismissed as just a fever by team coach Danny De Bie, with the rider having trained on the Hooglede-Gits course on Saturday. “There is no reason to panic,” De Bie told yesterday. “Bart will start on Sunday whatever.”

Whether or not Wellens will be able to return to racing this season is surely doubtful; what it means for the 33-year-old’s future career remains to be seen.


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