Kirchen denies he has opted to retire from cycling, will decide next month
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kirchen denies he has opted to retire from cycling, will decide next month

by Shane Stokes at 7:18 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Former Tour de France Maillot Jaune wants to continue if possible

Kim KirchenHaving suffered a serious heart problem earlier this year, Luxembourg’s Kim Kirchen is still clinging to hope that he might be able to restart his pro career. The 32 year old Classics winner has been off his bike since suffering cardiac arrest in June during the Tour de Suisse.

He has been left off Katusha’s roster for 2011, with radsport.ch stating that the team marked the rider down as retiring.

However Kirchen insists that he hasn’t decided to hang up his wheels. “I have nothing to do with what is written,” he told Wort.lu. “I will only decide my future in December.”

A former winner of Flèche Wallonne and a stage in the Tour de France, Kirchen suffered from heart problems just before midnight on Friday, June 18th. Team doctor Andrei Mikhailov and retired firefighter Marc Joseph performed CPR and stabilised him. He was rushed to the University Hospital of Zurich and remained in a medically-induced coma for four days.

In July Team manager Andrei Tchmil met with Kirchen and said that he wanted him to quit racing, but that another role would be found.

“I found Kim very well and I am very happy about it," Tchmil said at the time. "We’ll stay close to him like we did with the other Katusha riders that were unable to compete over the last two years because of several accidents, some more serious than others. Now he’s the father of two beautiful twins, and he has to think of them. That must be his first priority.

“And for that [reason] I have proposed a new role for Kim in our team,” he said, “one that’s different from being a rider. Something that will be in line with his wishes. I think we can find something together.”

Kirchen wasn’t interested in quitting the sport, though, telling Tageblatt that he wanted to continue. “I hope that next year I’ll be sitting on my bike,” he said in July. “Currently the results of the analysis haven’t come out so we still don’t know why it happened. This could take weeks, or even months. It’s unclear what the cause was, so I must wait.”

Five months on, he hasn’t revealed the outcome. It’s not sure whether he now knows the cause of the problem or not but, for another month at least, he is holding off on making any decision.

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Recap of events following cardiac arrest

Kirchen suffered from heart problems just before midnight in Switzerland on Friday evening June 18th. He was in his room with teammate Joaquim Rodriguez when he complained that he wasn't feeling well and collapsed. Rodriguez immediately got help from the team doctor Andrei Mikhailov and Marc Joseph, a family friend and retired firefighter, and they began to perform CPR.

The details of the exact heart condition were sketchy at first, but now it appears that he suffered from a cardiac arrest rather than a heart attack. He was rushed to the University Hospital of Zurich and arrived there just after midnight.

Doctors put Kirchen in a medically induced coma and lowered his body temperature to stabilize his medical condition, and improve his chances of recovery from the trauma.

On Tuesday June 22nd he emerged from his coma and immediately recognized his family, but didn't remember what had happened to him.

On Friday June 25th Kirchen was released from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the University Hospital of Zurich and transferred home to a hospital in Luxembourg.

He was released from the hospital during the week of July 5th.

Medical problems in the early season

Just before the E3 Prijs Kirchen had trouble with an infected saddle sore. He went on a heavy dose of antibiotics, and ended up in the hospital after having a bad reaction to the medication. Doctors couldn't find any problems with Kirchen and sent him home.

He was preparing to get back to racing in the Brabantse Pijl, but two days before the race he was found unconscious while out training and taken to the hospital by ambulance. Again, doctors were unable to diagnose the problem.

During Flèche Wallonne he began experiencing problems on the first climb up the Mur de Huy. People close to Kirchen told the De Standaard that "his vision went black, and he suddenly didn't know where he was".

The Tour de Suisse problems followed on from that and, since then, he has not competed.

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