Kim Kirchen reportedly eyes return to peloton after heart attack

The Team Katusha rider is said to have had a defibrillator implanted and is doing light training, but his manager says any comeback will be with some other squad.

Kim Kirchen has drawn criticism from his manager at Team Katusha after stubbornly refusing to give up bike racing despite a heart attack three months ago.

Kirchen, a former national champion and winner of the Fleche Wallonne semi-classic, suffered a heart attack at the Tour of Switzerland in June, apparently bringing a halt to his career.

Katusha manager Andre Tchmil asked Kirchen to give up racing and take a staff job with the team.

However, Kirchen, according to Het Nieuwsblad newspaper, has had a defibrillator implanted and is doing light training with a view to returning to the peloton.

If he is given the green light to return, however, he may have to look for a new team.

“It’s irresponsible for someone to race now when in June he almost died,” Tchmil said in the newspaper.

“It’s a time bomb that could go off at any moment. I’m prepared to offer him a job on the team staff, but not as a rider.”

Following his collapse after winning stage 7 of the Tour of Switzerland in June, Kirchen was put into a medically induced coma and spent almost three weeks in hospital.

The 32-year-old Luxemburger is an all-rounder who, thanks to his strong climbing skills, finished an impressive seventh overall on the 2008 Tour de France where he also wore the yellow jersey for four days.

The same year he also won stages on the Tour of the Basque Country and the Tour of Switzerland.