Tinkoff-Saxo announced Tuesday that Australian Michael Rogers will skip the 2016 Tour Down Under due to a heart condition, which he’s known about since 2001.
Rogers, 35, has a congenital bicuspid aortic valve. Normal aortic heart valves have three flaps to regulate blood flow, but in this condition, the heart only has two flaps. According to the Cleveland Clinic, hearts with this condition may function for years without symptoms or obvious problems. But the Tinkoff team said that a recent health check noted a “possible progression” of the condition.
“The aortic valve plays a crucial role in cardiac output by preventing blood from reentering the left ventricle from the main artery,” said doctor Piet De Moor, head of Tinkoff-Saxo’s medical team. “Due to the Michael’s bicuspid formation, the valve is prevented from sealing perfectly, causing a small amount of blood to return back into the left ventricle. Michael’s condition has been well documented throughout his career and has been under constant observation by several sports cardiologists.”
“My first stage win and overall victory in the professional ranks was at the 2002 Tour Down Under, so I’m disappointed I will not be present for next year’s edition,” said Rogers, who plans to retire at the end of the coming season.