Nathan Van Hooydonck, a promising Belgian cyclist, remains in a quandary about the heart condition that abruptly interrupted his career. Despite several medical consultations, the root cause of his ailment remains uncertain. Van Hooydonck, who was seen as a possible successor to Greg Van Avermaet in Belgian cycling, questioned if overtraining could have led to his condition.
The 25-year-old sportsman, who moved to the Jumbo-Visma from CCC Team at the start of 2021, had hopes of a breakthrough year. However, he had to recently step away from competition on the advice of team doctors after passing out whilst driving, which highlighted his condition. The medical team then diagnosed him with a left ventricular noncompaction (LVNC), a congenital heart condition that can affect anyone of any age.
Van Hooydonck, sadly, admitted his growing concern about this unforeseen interruption in his career. He expressed that despite his efforts, he had not found concrete reasons behind his condition. The young cyclist even speculated whether intense training could be a potential factor. He confessed to being perplexed over the possibility that training, intended to enhance his performance, could have simultaneously led to his current predicament.
While Van Hooydonck ponders over possible reasons, doctors continue to research his situation. They examined the young athlete’s parents and siblings, who are all cycle-racers. The tests led to the conclusion that the heart condition the cyclist suffers from had not been passed down genetically. The fact that the condition is present in Van Hooydonck but not in his family members deepens the mystery of his case.
The doctors are vigilant and continue to keep a careful eye on Van Hooydonck. They carried out a sequence of tests, including electrocardiograms and echocardiograms, along with a genetic test as well. The intent was to gain the maximum possible information about the cyclist’s heart condition. The Belgian cyclist’s medical team is expected to use this information to make an informed decision about his return to professional cycling.
A silver lining in this otherwise gloomy situation is the fact that Van Hooydonck’s LVNC is on the ‘light’ side of the spectrum. The doctors believe that it might not permanently hinder his career. Although he is to remain off his bike temporarily, the medical team is hopeful about his future in the sport.
Before his abrupt hiatus, Van Hooydonck had shown potential for a promising future in the sport. He had performances like leading the E3 Saxo Bank Classic for the best part of 200km under his belt. As a significant contributor to Wout Van Aert’s victories at the Amstel Gold Race and Gent-Wevelgem, he had already proven his ability to perform at the highest level of the sport.