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Kluge back on track after heart surgery

Roger Kluge at this year's Paris-Nice
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Roger Kluge, the reigning world champion in the Madison with partner Theo Reinhardt, had a poor showing in his first race of the UCI Track World Cup series in Glasgow, finishing a distant 17th in the Omnium, but the result was a victory in itself coming one month after the German underwent heart surgery to fix a congenital defect that caused him to have a minor stroke.

Kluge's condition was only made public on Saturday after the Germany monthly Moz published an interview with him. He had surgery on October 7 to fix a Patent Foramen Ovale (OP) - a congenital defect in the heart where an opening between the right and left atria of the heart fails to close after birth. 

About a quarter of adults have condition with no symptoms, but it can increase the risk of stroke. Tiny blood clots that would normally be filtered out in the lungs can make their way through the opening to the left ventricle where they can be pumped into the brain, causing a stroke.

This is exactly happened to Kluge in mid-March 2018. 

"I wanted to clean my daughter's nose, and at that moment my arm dropped slowly and I could not control it, it was scary, it was over after 30 seconds," Kluge told Moz.

The day after the minor stroke (known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA) which causes no permanent damage) Kluge, then racing for Mitchelton-Scott, traveled to Belgium for a race but did not start out of precaution.

"I went to the hospital for three days for an ECG (electrocardiogram), blood tests, etc. I was ready to go race and suddenly was in hospital surrounded by people who were really sick." 

Doctors detected the clot but pronounced Kluge to be perfectly healthy and he raced Paris- Roubaix.

"I think my partner Judith took it harder than me. I didn't think about it any further at the time. That just slows you down. I swallowed it and kept going like before. Nothing has happened since then," Kluge said.

But Lotto Soudal team doctor advised Kluge to have the surgery to minimise the risk of a stroke. "The surgery went well, I can hide it and I don't feel any difference," says Kluge who was given the green light to race and train normally.

Kluge and Reinhardt are racing in the Gent Six Day and currently lying in fourth with 121 points on the same lap as leaders Kenny De Ketele and Robbe Ghys, who have 197 points.