Slovenian rider Jan Polanc has retired from professional cycling after routine cardiac scans revealed irregularities which presented risks to Polanc’s continued participation in the WorldTour.
UAE Team Emirates made an official announcement on Monday, with the two-time Giro d’Italia stage winner offering a statement directly to fans.
“It has taken a lot of checks and follow-ups and the team has been by my side and working to find answers and to make the right decisions,” Polanc said, shedding some light on the long medical deliberations that led to the decision. “Also special thanks to my family and friends who have been close to me during this time and have always supported me during my career in both the good and bad moments.
“It’s obviously not the way I hoped to end my career as a rider, but when I look back I think I can be very happy. I have been in professional cycling for 10 years and with UAE Team Emirates since the very beginning of my career and have shared some amazing moments with them.”
Polanc suggested that a future may await him within the team support staff, saying “I hope to continue in this family in some capacity on the road ahead.”
The news comes after a 2022 season which offered some strong results for the experienced Slovenian. One of Polanc’s four career wins came at the Trofeo Laigueglia in March 2022, but the season-end Gran Piemonte would be his final outing in pro cycling.
Pro cyclists racing within UCI WorldTeam and ProTeams are required to undertake full cardiac screenings every season as part of article 13.3.015 of the UCI’s regulations – requiring a resting electrocardiogram, while a more in-depth doppler echocardiogram and stress electrocardiogram are required on a biannual basis.
The measures were put in place to mitigate the risk of sudden cardiac death during sporting activity, with cycling being considered a particularly high-risk activity for those with cardiac irregularities which may present no concerns in everyday life.
Polanc’s issues came up last winter as routine heart scans showed irregular patterns. Whilst there is no immediate danger to the 31-year-old’s well-being, the demands of elite-level cycling and the risk of competition have been deemed too severe for the Slovenian to continue racing.
Mauro Gianetti, CEO of UAE Team Emirates, said the decision hasn’t been made lightly, coming as the result of months of study and consultation with the team’s medical department and the world’s best specialists.
“Jan has been an asset to our team since the beginning and we are very proud of what he has achieved with us over the years,” Gianetti said.
Polanc also received a heartfelt tribute from his fellow countryman and teammate Tadej Pogačar on Instagram.
“I can’t imagine how hard it is to finish your career too soon, so that’s why I want to thank you for all the past years, you created us some nice memories. You should [be] and you are [an] inspiration for many young kids that want to look cool as we did winning our first Tour de France,” he wrote.
“You help me and show me the right path in cycling. I know this isn’t your last chapter in cycling world and you will achieve much more. But first, take care of your health and see you soon. Thank you for everything.”
UAE Team Emirates already hope to bring Jan’s experience on board in a new role going forward, Gianetti said, “Our team and organisation is always expanding and we hope we can work towards finding a new role for Jan in the future.”