Sep Vanmarcke has announced his retirement from professional cycling effective immediately due to medical reasons.

The 34-year-old will call time on his 14-year career, of which the past two and a half years were spent at Israel – Premier Tech, during which time he won the likes of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Bretagne Classic, the inaugural Maryland Classic, and graced the podium of Paris-Roubaix and Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Following an abnormally high heart rate detected while on the bike, Vanmarcke underwent testing including a cardiac MRI which confirmed the presence of scar tissue. The high risk of further cardiac complications posed by the scar tissue means that Vanmarcke will no longer be able to continue racing as a professional cyclist.

A crowd favorite on home soil in Belgium and beyond, Sep quickly made a name for himself as a Classics rider, showing the skills and true grit needed to conquer the cobbles. Yet his impressive palmarès doesn’t illustrate the many times Sep was at the front of the race battling for the win, never giving up no matter what the race threw at him.

Understandably disappointed to end his career in this way, Sep thanks his family, friends, fans, and team members for their support over the last 14 years:

When I pinned a number for the first time back in 2003, I never dared to dream about having a professional career. I ended up living that dream for 14 years, with highs and lows. I wasn’t the super talent, but with dedication and hard work I was able to compete with the best riders in the biggest races for years. I got to know many people and cultures all over the world and have been to places I never heard of before.

I would have liked to have raced at the highest level for a few more years and achieve more great performances together with IPT in the biggest races. It is very sad and painful to announce the end of my career in this way. At the same time, I am grateful that the problems with my heart were discovered in time. I’m going to take the time now to be with my family, to accept the situation and think about what I want to do in the future. My whole life has been all about cycling. Cycling will always be my passion.

IPT owner Sylvan Adams and General Manager Kjell Carlström speak on behalf of the whole team in praising Sep and his invaluable contribution to IPT:

We were all shocked to hear the news that Sep had a cardiac issue that will prevent him from racing again. At the same time, we are relieved that the issue was discovered, as Sep’s health and wellbeing are the priorities, for Sep, his family, and his IPT family. Sep expressed to me that he loves this team, where he is one of our leaders. We had spoken recently, wherein I gave him my personal commitment that he would retire a member of IPT when he decided to hang up his boots. We both didn’t realize that this would happen so suddenly. I wish Sep the very best, and a long life such that he will enjoy his future grandchildren,” says Adams.

In the three years Sep has raced for Israel – Premier Tech, he has become an integral member of our family and we are sad to see him retire in this way. Our absolute priority is Sep’s health and we are grateful that this complication was detected now. We will continue to support Sep in this period of transition as he determines what he would like to do next. I want to thank Sep for everything he has done for the team. We are incredibly grateful for the passion and leadership skills he has demonstrated in his time with us, and it has been an absolute pleasure to have had Sep race in IPT colors. Despite the tough times, Sep didn’t give up and his win in Maryland last year and third place at Gent – Wevelgem this year were a testament to his attitude. I have no doubt he will excel in whatever he chooses to do next,” adds Carlström.