Team MTN-Qhubeka received a tough break when it was discovered that one of its top riders will miss most of the season with an illness.
Adrien Niyonshuti, who hails from Rwanda and who used to race mountain bikes as recently as the 2012 Olympics, was recently diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT is a blood clot in a deep vein, normally the legs. Niyonshuti’s right calf was swollen after a mid-January flight, which started a series of doctor’s visits and tests.
The clot traveled through his body and into one of his lungs, where it became a pulmonary embolism — essentially an arterial blood clot in the lungs that can, in severe cases, stop blood flow and eventually cause death.
Niyonshuti was admitted to a hospital and was treated by a specialist, who has prescribed a course of blood-thinners to break up the clot and any others. Doctors said he cannot participate in “contact sports,” according to a MTN-Qhubeka press release. Niyonshuti will have to stay off the roads for a while although he can start riding on his bike trainer soon.
“I am disappointed but grateful that this was discovered sooner rather than later,” Niyonshuti said in the release. “I was looking forward to testing myself against some of the biggest riders in the world. I will use this time to rest and reflect on my career and what I’ve achieved so far.”
Added team doctor Jon Patrios: “In a situation like this, the immediate and long-term health of the athlete takes absolute precedence over the disappointment associated with the team losing one of our high-profile riders. Team MTN-Qhubeka’s medical network will continue to investigate possible intrinsic causes of Adrien’s illness and monitor his recovery while striving to facilitate his return to high-level cycling.”
In the meantime, Team Principal Douglas Ryder said Niyonshuti could help spread the sport of his cycling throughout Africa and focus on his cycling academy in Rwanda.