Lotto Belisol detail heart examinations riders face, plus further precautions taken
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Friday, December 07, 2012

Lotto Belisol detail heart examinations riders face, plus further precautions taken

by VeloNation Press at 6:48 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Safeguards in place to minimise risk of top-intensity competition

Jurgen RoelandtsLotto Belisol team doctor Jan Mathieu has detailed the process the riders on that squad plus on other teams undergo in order to avoid heart issues in competitive cycling.

The tests have been compulsory for over a decade and seek to pinpoint any abnormalities early on. Several pro riders have been told to retire over the years, but the vast majority are passed fit and can continue the sport knowing that the necessary precautions have been taken.

Only those riders who undergo the tests are able to be given the racing licence they need.

“The tests were made obligatory by the UCI more than ten years ago,” explained Mathieu. “It's logical to limit as much as possible any fatal heart failures in sport.

“All riders have to take three tests. A normal cardiogram in rest, an exertion test in combination with an electrocardiogram and an ultrasound of the heart, to examine among other things the functioning of the cardiac muscle and the cardiac valves.”

The Lotto Belisol riders conducted their tests in the Centre Hospitalier Chrétien (CHC) in Liège. On Tuesday they linked up with three doctors in the department of cardiology and medical imaging. Jürgen Roelandts [pictured] was one of them and gave his thoughts on the process.

“The UCI tests have become an annual habit. On the one hand it is of course very important to know if there are any problems. As a pro it would be a worst-case scenario if an abnormality is found, but that is the reason why these kind of tests are important,” he said.

“On the other hand we already get to see how our shape is thanks to the maximal exertion test, which is always instructive. I am in the middle of the built-up of condition for next season. My broken collarbone has healed, so I can totally focus on what has to come.”

According to team doctor Mathieu, the Lotto Belisol squad takes additional measures to further determine parameters and monitor riders’ health.

He said that one such measure is to examine the oxygen level of the riders as a way of detecting possible abnormalities. “Apart from that, we let all our riders take a Holter monitoring during our training camp,” he said. “During the night and during the training they are monitored 24 hours, so we can see for example if their heart isn't beating extremely low when they are asleep.”

He said that according to the UCI tests, all the riders have been given a thumbs up in terms of their heart readings.

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