Only a week after his heart surgery Robert Gesink (Belkin) is back on the bike and training at altitude, and the Dutch climber already has one eye on a possible ride in this year's Tour de France, which starts in exactly 50 days time.
“It doesn’t mean I start the Tour but I also don’t discard taking part this year,” Gesink wrote in his Telegraaf news paper column on Friday.
“I want to see how things go at altitude. From previous years I know what training and which tests I have to do to start the Tour de France in good form. But I will also be aware not to start catching up with everything too fast so I would start the Tour already exhausted. If that is the case, the Vuelta might be a better option. Answers to those questions will come to me in the upcoming weeks.”
A heart arrythmia
Gesink underwent a minor operation after suffering with the heart condition for a several years.
After a good start to the season with a sixth place in the Tour Down Under and a fifth place overall in the Tour of Oman, Gesink seemed back on track for another shot at the overall classification in the Tour de France this year after finishing fifth in 2010. However the medical condition that caused his atrial fibrillation held him back at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Gesink and the team decided to have more medical examinations done which resulted in a surgical procedure on the 7th of May.
“Only after the second attempt they were able to induce the arrythmia and found out what caused it. It was easy to solve and it was the best possible outcome I could have had,” Gesink writes.
“Maybe I should have had it done earlier but the arrhythmia didn’t occur often and why have surgery when several cardiologists told me it’s 100 per cent harmless. It’s quite a procedure to have and always carries risks with it.”
Gesink’s mind changed after the Giro d’Italia 2013 where he had to abandon on the penultimate day while being 12th in the overall classification.
“It was only after the Giro when it happened again and when it also caused hyperventilation that my thoughts about it changed. I told myself that the next time it happened, I would take action.” That was in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in April of this year.
With the surgery out of the way, Gesink is now optimistic about the future of his career.
“One thing is clear. This was not caused by stress, like some media wrote. Even if I weren’t a procyclist this would have happened. But I have closed this chapter now and that is a huge relief.”