Cyclo-cross star Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) was brought over to intensive care on Saturday night. Team manager Hans van Kasteren told the press during a press conference on Sunday morning that his rider had an acute fever attack on Saturday evening which caused major malfunctioning to his heart. Wellens was transported to the hospital in Geel nearby his hometown but when his situation worsened he was transferred to the intensive care unit at the University Hospital in Antwerp. His situation was at moments life-threatening but were said to be stable on Sunday morning.
On the eve of the Belgian national cyclo-cross championships in Hooglede-Gits outsider Wellens talked about great legs after a training ride. “Bart was riding very well this week and yesterday he said he felt super on training. Around 2pm we received an ominous text message: I’m afraid that I’m getting a bit ill, Bart told us. It started with a bit of fever but hour after hour his temperature increased,” Van Kasteren said.
“When his temperature reached about 40°C around 10pm we acknowledged how serious the situation was and transported Bart to the hospital in Geel. Around 3:30am his situation worsened and it got even more serious. His acute fever attack reached his heart zone and then it became very dangerous. Earlier heart troubles with one of our riders [Tim Pauwels, brother of Kevin, red.] caused drama in the past so we didn’t take any risk. That’s why we transferred him from Geel to the division intensive care of the hospital in Antwerp. For a brief moment we feared for Bart’s life but as of now his situation in stable and no longer life threatening. It’s more stable than expected but that can change every minute,” Van Kasteren warned.
The Telenet-Fidea team manager added that Lentl, the wife of Bart Wellens, was always by her husband’s side. The rest of the team including Bart's brother Geert were not informed in order not to interfere in their build-up to the championships race.
“It’s obvious Bart will not be participating at the national championship or any other upcoming race. We fear this might be the end of his season,” Van Kasteren said.
On Saturday evening team director Danny De Bie talked about a light fever when talking to cyclocross.info. The running skills from Wellens would come in handy on the muddy course in Hooglede-Gits and the former world champion was considered to be an outsider in the battle for the driekleur, the tricolore jersey of the Belgian champion.
Meanwhile also top favorite Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) struggled with health issues although these were of a minor level. On Sunday morning the seven-times Belgian champion visited the chiropractor to unblock his back. “On my way to the doctor instead of Hooglede, back is blocked. Hopefully all turns fine,” Nys tweeted on Sunday morning. Half an hour later he tweeted a more positive sound. “Back is unblocked. I’ll start, with our without pain. Thanks to all the folks that helped me out this morning.”
At 3pm local time the highly-rated Belgian cyclo-cross peloton in the Elite Men category lines up on the 2007 world championships course in Hooglede-Gits. Back then Wellens and Nys were soon knocked out of the race by an all-terrain vehicle. For now it seems the two riders are still followed by bad luck when it comes down to the race in Hooglede. Nys still has a chance to turn it all around and claim his eighth title on Sunday afternoon.