Jens Keukeleire (EF Pro Cycling) revealed to Sporza on Thursday that he fell ill just before the worldwide coronavirus lockdowns went into effect and, after a lengthy recovery, is finally feeling back to normal.
Keukeleire raced in the Tour Down Under, Race Torquay and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race before returning to Belgium for the opening weekend - Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. He started having symptoms a few weeks later but only recently discovered that what he had was COVID-19.
Two weeks ago, Keukeleire had an antibody test for the virus that can detect a past infection, and it was positive.
"I got tested a few weeks ago and I had the virus," Keukeleire said to Sporza. "I also know more or less when. I got sick about 2 to 3 weeks after the opening weekend (February 29 and March 1). The lockdown was about to start."
"I had a fever, but otherwise I had no corona symptoms such as loss of smell or taste. But the virus did get me good.
"I had a fever for a long time and I felt for a long time that there was something in my body that was not normal. I was tired for a long time and I took it easy for a while."
Cyclingnews has seen a draft of the UCI's guidance for allowing riders to train following a coronavirus infection that highlighted the risks for cardiac complications but Keukeleire said he has been given the OK to race.
Keukeleire said that he underwent additional testing to make sure his heart and lungs were unaffected.
"If I had heart rhythm problems, things would have been different. We have seen that many corona patients have had their hearts affected and many riders have had to stop due to heart problems in recent years. You don't want to think about that too much."
"I can race with confidence, but I have not been able to do what I had to do in the past period. I have not been able to maintain my condition at the level I had," he said.
Keukeleire said while he was sick he was in daily contact with his team doctor, and now that he has recovered and feels back to normal he is reassured.
"I have been feeling for three weeks now that everything is back to normal. My body reacts normally to the stimuli that I give. The legs are turning well again. I am glad I didn't have lasting effects."
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