Niels Albert takes his first WOrld Cup win of the season at Koksijde. © Thomas Van Bracht

Niels Albert takes the win at Superprestige Gieten a day after winning at the World Cup in Koksijde. © Thomas Van Bracht

In a press conference held this afternoon, an emotional Niels Albert announced his retirement from citing heart problems. He apparently found out Wednesday night that due to infection, he would need to retire.

Last Wednesday night, 28-year-old BKCP rider Niels Albert got the hard news that he must immediately stop with racing. With tears in his eyes and full emotion, Albert gave the news to the media today. The young racer has had an amazing run, including his first World Championship title in 2009, and World Championship win in 2012. He had a rougher Worlds race this year, but still took the win at races including the Superprestige Gieten, a day after winning at the World Cup in Koksijde.

Doctors found the problem with his heart through a routine control in March. What they discovered is scar tissue build-up on his heart due to an infection. This scar tissue is causing arythmia of his heart. Albert explained that he is sure when he had this infection–could be weeks, months or even a year ago, but but this scar tissue left on on his heart could prove fatal if he continues with his training/racing. The more he trains, the worse it can get, and even moderate training is not healthful for him. If he continued with training and racing, it could be fatal.

The BKCP team doctor Dr. Guy de Schutter has said that there are also two French soccer players that he heard had the same thing but to a lesser extent. They were forced to stop because it was near fatal. There was also Lotto-Belisol rider Olivier Kaisen who suffered from dysrythmia and was forced to stop immediately.

Competitor Sven Nys said on Twitter that he was “Speechless. No words,” at the news.

We wish Niels Albert a full recovery.

Christine Vardaros

Christine Vardaros is an Elite ’crosser who started her career in the US and quickly transitioned to life as an American expat living and racing in Belgium. Cyclocross Magazine's European eyes and ears, she maintains a Rider Diary in both print and online, and contributes features regularly as well.