Tanguy Turgis has only been a professional cyclist for just over nine months, but he has been forced to call an early end to his career after a heart defect was discovered.
The 20-year-old Frenchman, younger brother of Jimmy and Anthony Turgis, turned pro with the Vital Concept team this year and has raced throughout the season, including a number of top-level spring classics.
The warning signs appeared during the Famenne Ardenne Classic in Belgium at the end of September and he was taken to the local hospital before being taken to a larger facility in Rennes, where he remained for several days in order to get to the bottom of the problem.
"The doctors sadly confirmed what I feared since the tests taken on Monday. I have an irregularity that is susceptible to worsen over time and it's forbidden to take any risks," said Turgis. "Even if I will still be able to ride at a decent pace and go out with my friends, I am not able to participate in elite-level sport. It's like everything has collapsed."
Turgis had taken up cycling as early as five years old and the sport is his big passion in life. It's a family affair, too, with his two older brothers, Jimmy and Anthony, already racing as professionals.
"This is going to change my life," said Turgis. "It's hard to accept, because I love cycling more than anything else and I feel like I'm abandoning my brothers. I so wanted to ride alongside Jimmy next year, in the same jersey. It's going to take some time to process this but I hope to stay in the world of cycling. I love it too much and I would like to stay with my brothers, help them however I can and give back some of what they have done for me over the years.
"Nevertheless, the cardiac specialist explained to me that it could have been worse, and that's what you have to remember. I'm lucky to be surrounded by people who support me an want to help me, whatever I decide to do. I'm now going to reflect a little on what's next. I've often thought about what I could do after stopping cycling but I never imagined it coming so soon."
Team manager Jérôme Pineau was devastated at the loss of a promising young rider but emphasised that they had to see the positives.
Cycling has had a number of heart-related incidents in recent years, some of which have resulted in death. Daan Myngheer died after a cardiac arrest at the 2016 Criterium International, while Michael Goolaerts died after a similar episode at this year's Paris-Roubaix. On Friday, only a matter of hours after Vital Concept announced the Turgis news, another young Belgian pro, Jimmy Duquennoy, died of a cardiac arrest at his home.
"This news puts an end to the dreams of a young kid and it's an infinite sadness. But we have, thankfully, benefitted from the expertise of the specialists, who have allowed us to avoid a tragedy, as we see in the sport from time to time. Despite the shock and the disappointment at the diagnosis, we can count ourselves lucky," said Pineau.
"For several days I've been thinking a lot about the families of athletes and cyclists who left us while practising their passion. Fabrice Salanson, Daan Myngheer, Michael Goolaerts... We were lucky to avoid that and our goal now is to support Tanguy as best we can and as long as he wishes. How to help him prepare for life after cycling? Since the start of this team, we placed a lot hope in Tanguy and we'll help him train for the profession he chooses. This winter, we welcome his brother Jimmy to the team and he will now have to win without his brother.
"Life goes on and that's our good fortune. Tanguy is blessed with a character that will allow him to succeed in whatever he decides to do. In his future career he will be able to show the qualities that made him the rider he was - steely, combative, perfectionist, passionate, and curious about everything. Despite his young years he has an immense knowledge of the sport and lots of great things await him - professionally and personally."
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