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THE HAGUE (AFP) — Dutch rider Robert Gesink will skip Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race due to a heart condition, the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The 27-year-old Belkin rider suffers from stress in major races that triggers problems with his heartbeat, the paper reported.
When contacted by AFP, Gesink’s team declined to comment ahead of a scheduled press conference the rider is due to appear at later Tuesday.
UPDATE: Belkin distributed a comment on Gesink’s health status later Tuesday, saying the team would stand by its long-term star rider, who will be on the sidelines for an unknown period of time.
“Belkin Pro Cycling Team rider Robert Gesink has been suffering from cardiac arrhythmia during heavy physical exertions for a few years,” the statement read. “This was also the case while he obtained his greatest race results. During previously conducted medical research, medics have concluded that cardiac arrhythmia does not hinder a cyclist’s performance, even at the highest level. However, ever since the Giro d’Italia in 2013, Robert has become afraid of this disorder. In agreement with the team, the medical staff and experts, Robert has decided to go through an extensive medical examination to try and find the cause of this disorder and a solution for this problem.
“The Belkin Pro Cycling Team will fully support Robert during this period, and will give him all the time he needs to recover. Up until now, the medical staff has not found any reason to stop Robert from racing. In agreement with Robert, the team will perform an extensive cardiac examination and he will not race until further notice. The Belkin Pro Cycling Team has full confidence that Robert will be able to continue to perform at the highest level and that he will leave this difficult problem behind him.”
Gesink abandoned during the fifth stage of last week’s Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country), and in March he also failed to complete the Tirreno-Adriatico.
Gesink’s best finish in a grand tour was fifth at the Tour de France in 2010.
The Amstel Gold Race is the first of three hilly spring classics set for the next two weeks. It is followed by the Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège.