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Lotto Belisol: Cardiac problems force Olivier Kaisen to quit

Lotto Belisol deeply regrets to have to announce the end of the career of one of its riders. Olivier Kaisen (30) has to put the racing bicycle aside permanently, forced by cardiac problems. The 30-year-old Kaisen turned out to be a very valued helper for the different leaders in the team for eight years and was the rider who served the Lotto team the longest.

Team doctor Jan Mathieu: “Each year the riders have to undergo a cardiologic examination which is made obligatory by the UCI. In a very burdening sport as cycling that isn’t superfluous. For this we work together with the team of cardiologist Sophie Demanez and the CHC hospital in Liège. The test of Olivier half of November showed an aberration of the cardiac rhythm. Further examination by heart specialists doctor Demanez and professor Heidbuchel made clear that this wasn’t an impediment for top sport. When Olivier had hinder again in the Tour Down Under half of January – of a different nature than before – also that problem was further examined and analyzed. The results and conclusions didn’t leave any room for doubts: keep on cycling isn’t an option.”

Olivier Kaisen: “Last Friday I got the news I feared was coming up: I have to quit cycling. Of course I had rather seen it differently, but keep on cycling isn’t an option. After the UCI-tests half of November I was actually surprised when I heard an aberration was found, because I had never felt anything before, but luckily I got the permission to continue with cycling. At training camp in December I was able to train in perfect circumstances without any problem. Now I think my moderate season in 2013 might be caused by it.”

“After the second stage at the Tour Down Under I didn’t feel well. It had been a very tiring and extremely hot day and I had ridden much at the head of the bunch for André Greipel. I did start the next stage, but immediately after the start of the third stage I felt something was wrong. I was scared and together with sports director Herman Frison I decided to quit. He said I couldn’t take any risk.”

“Back home in Belgium the doctors decided to monitor me four days long with a Holter, a portable device that constantly measures the electric activity of the heart during everyday circumstances, hoping to detect the problem this way. And on the third day I indeed felt again the same arrhythmia. When screening the electrocardiogram the doctors were able to clearly locate the time and type of the arrhythmia; unfortunately with drastic consequences…”

“I had loved to race a few more years, but I have to listen to my body and respect the conclusion of the doctors, even though this is very hard. I had never thought that someone else would decide about the end of my career. At the moment I’m a lot at home with my wife and son Jussi. I get lots of support from the team, friends and family, but still feel a bit lost. There are worse things in life, but cycling has been part of my life for more than 20 years. I have no idea yet how my future looks like, I only got the news a few days ago and want to let it all sink in.”

Manager Marc Sergeant: “This makes you put the sportive results in perspective and of course as a manager you rather not have to experience this. Health problems are disastrous for a sportsman, but at the moment when it’s live-threatening, sport is of secondary importance and only the human side counts. Oli has been in our team for eight years and that’s why the mutual involvement is big. On the other hand I’m also happy that these kind of tests are obligatory. At Lotto Belisol we even go further and within our scientific approach our riders undergo an elaborate package of tests that have to enable us to detect possible problems of all kinds in an early stage.”

“Furthermore I think this should be a plea for screening of both pro and amateur sportspeople. As a WorldTour team we should set an example and spread the message that not any risk is worth a human life. We carry a big responsibility and have to take on that fight. In the name of myself, all staff members and all riders I deeply want to thank Oli for all generous efforts as part of the team, for his numerous kilometers at the head of the bunch, for his personality and character within the team. We will do our best to assist him as good as possible during the next weeks and months and if possible to build the bridge to the next part of his life.”

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