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Kim Kirchen thinks it is highly unlikely that he will ride professionally in 2011, and indicated that he may never return to the peloton. The 32-year-old said that doctors are still searching for the reasons for his heart attack in June. The pace-maker implanted in his heart at that time may put an end to his active career.
Kirchen suffered a heart attack in his hotel room during the Tour de Suisse, and was placed in an induce coma. He spent a total of three weeks in hospital.
“I am still waiting for news from the doctors who are taking care of me and testing me,” he told Wort.lu. “There is still no definite knowledge. It will probably last a few more weeks.”
He admitted that “Right now I am not very positive” about continuing his career. “I have trained only lightly recently and the chances that I will ride races in 2011 or be active as a pro are bad. That probably won't be the case.”
“I would love to still be a pro cyclist, but I won't take any unnecessary risk,” he continued. “If there is any doubt at all, then I must look for something else to do. The situation is serious. I cannot take lightly what happened in June."
The presence of the pace-maker could also prevent him from obtaining a licence. “If they find the reason for my problem, then they could possibly solve it. Then I wouldn't need the pace-maker any more and could possibly ride again. But there is no point in speculating.”
Should he return, it wouldn't be with Team Katusha. His contract with the team will expire on Sunday. A clause in the contract says that a rider who is not active for the team for six months is automatically removed from the team, and Sunday will be six months from his heart attack. “That doesn't matter. The contact between me and the team has been broken, since we have different opinions on certain points. But I don't want to go into details.”
Coping with the situation
The whole affair is “something other than positive,” Kirchen said. “Right now it is not going forward. I notice, how much the whole thing affects me, for example, I am sleeping very poorly. I think about it a lot and surely dwell on it too much.”
In the meantime, “I can fortunately spend a lot of time with the children. That way you forget your problems really quickly.” His wife gave birth to twin sons only weeks after the heart attack.
“In the coming days I will devote myself fully to my family and want to have wonderful holidays with them,” he concluded.