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by Mark Zalewski
December 31, 2016
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Van Aert outsprints Sweeck for Bredene win; De Jong back on top at Bredene; Mathieu van der Poel unlikely to race GP Sven Nys; Nicole Cooke: British Cycling has many questions to answer; Gianni Meersman forced to retire due to cardiac arrhythmia; New kit design, bike sponsor for UnitedHealthcare; Oldest Tour de France winner dies; Video: Gold Coast Hinterland; Happy new year!
Gianni Meersman announced his retirement, effective immediately, after a routine medical check-up discovered a cardiac arrhythmia and scar tissue. The 31-year-old was set to move from Etixx-Quick Step to Fortuneo-Vital Concept in 2017.
“When this abnormal cardiac evaluation was discovered a few weeks ago, it obviously felt like a real shock,” said Meersman. “In the meantime, I had additional tests and scans, but they confirmed that this health risk would remain if I continued to ride at a high-level, so the specialists advised me to end my career.
“Considering my wife and daughter, who put everything aside during my career, I can not and will not take such a risk. The bike was not only my profession but also my passion, and it is with much pain that I made that decision.”
“It is of course a blow to the team but it is primarily a huge blow to him,” said Fortuneo-Vital Concept manager Emmanuel Hubert. “Gianni is an engaging guy and a great rider who quickly gelled with the team. Cycling was putting his life in danger, he must not take any risk, it is obvious. I’ve known Gianni for six months, he’s a fighter, he’ll bounce back and I’ll of course think about what we could do to help him. He had been great in our training, and I wish him the best in the future.”
The Belgian won two stages of the Vuelta a España this year and won the overall at the Tour de Wallonie in 2014.