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One of Australian cycling’s most exciting young talents, Robert Power, has had his career sidelined indefinitely due to a rare disease.
The 20 year old has been identified as having major stage race potential due to his climbing ability, but he is facing an uncertain future after being diagnosed with a form of bone marrow oedema.
“I’ve been in sports medicine for more than 40 years and I’ve never seen this,” Orica-GreenEdge medical director Dr Peter Barnes said, according to the Herald Sun.
“It’s in the books and the fine print, but it’s one of those things you’d never get asked about in an exam because it’s so rare.”
Barnes said that the issue shows up on a MRI scan as being similar to a bone bruise. However it is not connected to trauma and, as he admits, the cause is unknown.
Power took second overall in the 2014 Tour de l’Avenir and also took victory in the overall standings in the Oceania Tour. This season he took victory in the general classification in the Giro della Valle d’Aosta.
He was confirmed as a future Orica GreenEdge rider in January of this year, and was due to turn pro at the start of 2016.
His agent Jason Bakker, who also represents Australia’s only Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, said that his class is obvious.
“He is a very, very exciting prospect,” Bakker told CyclingTips earlier this year.
“He’s still very young, he is 20. But he came second in the Tour de L’Avenir last year despite being pretty much the youngest guy in the field. Despite that, I think he was only something like 20 seconds off the top spot on the podium.
“He won’t do it this year, he has injured his knee and he is recovering from that at the moment. I think he will probably put the cue on the rack for the rest of the year to prepare for his first pro season next year.
Power was getting that injury checked out when his condition was discovered. Barnes explained the symptoms.
“He gets pain in his knee when he’s climbing or doing strength endurance stuff. Other than that he gets no pain at all, which is the frustrating thing. He can walk, jump, hop and he doesn’t feel a thing.”
Fortunately, Barnes believes that the issue can and should settle down. “There’s no treatment. The one thing we do know about it is that it will eventually come good, but obviously the question everyone will ask is ‘when?’ and we’ve got no idea,” he stated.
“The literature says it’s anywhere between four and 24 months.”
That seems to suggest that his long term pro career is not jeopardised. However his progress is going to be slower than envisaged, with recovering being the priority at this point in time.
Power will undergo checkups at the Western Australian Institute of Sport in the months ahead.