Kirchen still hopes to be able to return to pro cycling
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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kirchen still hopes to be able to return to pro cycling

by Conal Andrews at 9:24 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
A year after his cardiac arrest, Luxembourg rider reflects on health issues

Kim KirchenAlthough it’s been almost twelve months since he last competed, Kim Kirchen has said that he is still holding out some hope that a diagnosis and cure can be found for the heart issues that forced him to hang up his wheels.

Kirchen spoke recently on the subject at the presentation of the Skoda Tour de Luxembourg. “We're still trying to see what happened,” he said, according to Cyclism’Actu. “We have found things but doctors still have no certainty as to what happened. And for me it's the most important to move forward and eventually put this to an end.”

However he admits he finds it hard to let go. “I still can not do it now. For, if in two months, we have assured me find the cause of all this, then I would try again to be a professional cyclist. Soon it will be a year [since he last raced]. The more time passes, the harder it is to envisage a return. But I still think it's not totally impossible, either.”

Prior to Kirchen’s collapse, he was experiencing peculiar health issues. He had an infected saddle sore prior to the E3 Prijs. He was put on a heavy dose of antibiotics but ended up in the hospital due to a bad reaction to the medication. Doctors were unable to pinpoint the cause.

Then, two days before the Brabantse Pijl, he was found unconscious while out training and taken to the hospital by ambulance. Again, doctors couldn’t work out the reason for what had happened, and he continued racing.

A third incident happened during Flèche Wallonne when on the first ascent of the Mur de Huy, his vision went black and he became unaware of where he was.

Things became far more serious two months after that. On June 18th of last year, he collapsed in the hotel room he was sharing with Joaquim Rodriguez and had to be given CPR. He was rushed to the University Hospital of Zurich and was placed in a medically induced coma for three days. Soon afterwards, Kirchen was transferred to a hospital in Luxembourg, and was finally released during the week of July 5th.

Last September the newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported that he had had a defibrillator fitted, and was training once again. His then-team Katusha said that he would not be allowed to compete with them again. “To let somebody race again who was almost dead [in June] is irresponsible," he told the paper. "It is a time bomb which can go off anytime. Kirchen can have a function within the team, but racing: No."

While doctors continue to try to pinpoint the cause of his problems, he has been working as a consultant for RTL, Radio Tele Luxembourg. He began with Milan Sanremo and has continued since. He’s happy to continue in the world of cycling but wants, above all, to resume racing if it’s in any way possible.

What’s certain is that he won’t get a green light easily. Unless the cause of his malaise is pinpointed and guarantees can be given that it won’t reoccur again, he won’t be permitted to compete. Either way, as long as he gets a firm answer, Kirchen can move on from the current uncertainty.

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