Nathan van Hooydonck forced to retire due to heart problems

Belgian fitted with internal defibrillator as he leaves hospital for the first time since his accident, but his pro career is over

Clock16:07, Wednesday 20th September 2023
Nathan van Hooydonck was a valuable member of Jumbo-Visma's squad

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Nathan van Hooydonck was a valuable member of Jumbo-Visma's squad

Jumbo-Visma's Nathan van Hooydonck has been forced to announce the immediate end of his professional career after being fitted with an internal defibrillator to correct any further cardiac arrhythmia, which resulted in his car crash last Tuesday, 12 September.

For the first time since his crash, Van Hooydonck has been able to leave the University Hospital of Antwerp, where he has been treated over the past week. However, the diagnosis of a heart muscle anomaly has left the Belgian with no choice but to retire from racing.

"I realise that I was incredibly lucky", Van Hooydonck commented in Jumbo-Visma's announcement. "Things may have gone differently if I hadn't gotten good help so quickly. I'm fine now, but I still have to deal with the fact that this marks the end of my professional career.

"I would like to express my gratitude to the people who helped me, the medical team at the hospital and all the fans who sent me messages. I will now focus on my recovery and my upcoming fatherhood."

Van Hooydonck's crash was particularly frightening due to his pregnant wife being in the same vehicle but, luckily, she did not suffer any serious injuries and the rouleur was able to provide a positive update in that regard.

"Everything is going well with Alicia and the pregnancy, and we eagerly anticipate the birth. That really helps me now."

Jumbo-Visma have asked for Van Hooydonck to now be allowed the rest he needs to continue his recovery, and will no doubt be mixed with feelings of relief, on the one hand, but sadness on the other, as Van Hooydonck has now ridden his final race in their colours.

As Van Hooydonck was being treated in hospital, his Jumbo-Visma teammates were doing their best to honour him by dominating the final week of the Vuelta a España. Jonas Vingegaard is particularly close friends with the 27-year-old and dedicated his victory on stage 16 to him, with Dylan van Baarle later paying tribute to Van Hooydonck on Sunday's final stage.

The tall was coming into the best years of his career with Jumbo-Visma and had become a formidable member of their team in this year's spring Classics, achieving the best result of his career with second place at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

Having also ridden for Bissell Development Team, BMC and CCC since 2014, Van Hooydonck will now retire to prioritise his health, and his family life with Alicia.

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