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Keukeleire confirms he came down with coronavirus

The Belgian classics rider said he was struck with fever in March.

Jens Keukeleire (EF Pro Cycling) is the latest WorldTour rider to confirm they’ve come down with COVID-19.

The Belgian classics rider said he came down with a fever in March, and antibody tests later confirmed he had contacted the coronavirus.

“I was tested a few weeks ago, and I had the virus,” Keukeleire told Sporza. “I had a fever, but not some of the other coronavirus symptoms such as loss of smell or taste. The virus caught me well.”

Keukeleire joins other pros such as Fernando Gaviria and Max Richeze (UAE-Emirates), who have come down with COVID-19. Jumbo-Visma manager Richard Plugge also said he was infected by the coronavirus.

“I had a fever for a long time, and felt there was something in my body that was not normal,” Keukeleire said. “I was tired for a long time.”

Keukeleire joined EF Pro Cycling for 2020, and raced in Australia and the opening Belgian weekend. He said he started feeling ill in the subsequent weeks.

Keukeleire, 31, said he’s now fully recovered, and that he is not showing any signs of lingering after-effects. There have been some indications that the most severe cases of infection can cause permanent damage to a victim’s heart or lungs. As a result, the UCI and teams are planning on introducing a battery of tests before WorldTour racing is scheduled to resume in August.

“If I had heartbeat problems, it could have been very different,” Keukeleire said. “I was worried about my heart. We have seen that many corona patients have their hearts affected, and many have been forced to stop due to heart problems in recent years.

“I had my blood checked about two weeks ago, and I tested positive for antibodies,” he continued. “I also had to have additional tests performed on my heart and lungs, and the results were good. I can race again with confidence, but I have not been able to do what I normally would have done. I wasn’t able to maintain my fitness.”

Keukeleire said he was in close contact with team doctors, who he said monitored his health and said he was never in serious danger. The Belgian said he’s resumed training and is hopeful to race before the season is over.

“The legs are turning well again,” he said. “I have been feeling for the past three weeks that everything is back to normal. My body reacts normally to the stimuli that I give.”