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by Shane Stokes
December 16, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
What was scheduled to be the final pro season for Mick Rogers will get off to a disrupted start, with the Australian forced to miss the Santos Tour Down Under plus the Australian championships.
Roger’s Tinkoff-Saxo team announced the news on Tuesday, saying that a heart issue is the reason behind the change of plan.
“Michael was diagnosed with a congenital bicuspid aortic valve in 2001,” stated Doctor Piet De Moor, the head of Tinkoff-Saxo’s medical team.
“The aortic valve plays a crucial role in cardiac output by preventing blood from re-entering the left ventricle from the main artery. 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.”
While the condition has been under control, a routine echo-cardiogram prior to the new season showed that there had been what the team calls a “possible progression” in the condition.
Because of this, the team road captain has ben told to moderate his training. Additional expert opinions have been sought and the outcome of those will likely determine what happens next.
At this point in time, the team hasn’t indicated that Rogers may have to retire early.
As expected, the triple world time trial champion and Giro/Tour stage winner regrets the developments.
“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,” he said.
He said that returning to the sport was a priority for him. “I look forward to being back doing what I adore most – trying to win bike races for myself and my teammates.”
The UCI health checks are designed to try to flag up issues such as these, and are held annually. In addition to that, riders will undergo other health screenings during the year, including before the Tour de France.
The team’s head directeur sportif Steven de Jongh has said that Rogers will be welcomed back when he has a green light to do so.
“Michael will again be a crucial member of our core squad when he returns to his top fitness level,” he said.