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French champion Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) makes his way to the start beneath threatening skies.
Frenchman to undergo further medical tests
The French cycling federation had denied a licence to two-time French national champion Nicolas Vogondy for health reasons. The 32-year-old has cardiac arrhythmia problems.
Vogondy joined Bbox Bouygues Telecom this year after three years with Agritubel. He turned pro in 1998 with La Francaise des Jeux, where he rode until joining Crédit Agricole for 2005 and 2006. In 2002 and 2008 he won the French national road title.
The heart problems were discovered during routine medical tests for the renewal of his licence. Vogondy must now have a complete rest before undergoing further tests in Tours on February 15-16.
“I am a little concerned and very disappointed,” he said. “I wanted to get off to a good start with my new team.”
Bbox will support its new rider. “This could happen to anyone,” said Didier Rous, the team's sport director. “We will do everything to help him with the hope that future tests will turn out positively.”
Fellow French rider Nicolas Portal missed much of last season with similar problems, but is returning to the peloton with Team Sky this year.
Quick Step uses mini-ECG
Team Quick Step is keeping an eye on the cardiac health of its riders. At its recent training camp in Calpe, Spain, the riders wore a mobile electrocardiogram device 24 hours a day.
The small device allowed medical staff to continuously monitor the riders' hearts, automatically sending the data via internet to be analysed.
In cycling, there is a high variability of heart rate, going from under 40 beats per minute at rest to over 200 at maximum power output. "It is therefore important to detect any abnormality,” said professor of cardiology Pedro Brugada.