Former professional Freddy Maertens is recovering in hospital from cardiac surgery. The double World Champion underwent surgery this week at Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel in Jette, according to Het Laatste Nieuws.

The 65 year-old was suffering from cardiac arrhythmias. The treatment from cardiologist Pedro Brugada went well according to the report, but Maertens will have to remain in intensive care for the moment.

“Speaking is difficult at the moment,” said his wife Carine. “Freddy must be careful that he is not putting pressure on his chest.”

“With such a serious operation in prospect we were both a little scared, but when I brought him here on Tuesday night, Freddy already felt a lot less nervous, because this ended the wait.”

Maertens won the World Road Race Championships in 1976 and 1981. He also won the Vuelta a Espana in 1977, winning an incredible 13 stages along the way. In total, he won 36 Grand Tour stages.

Other one-day wins he took in a remarkable career included Omloop Het Volk (1977 and 1978), Gent–Wevelgem (1975 and 1976) E3 Prijs Vlaanderen (1978), Amstel Gold Race (1976), Grand Prix des Nations (1976), Scheldeprijs (1973), Paris–Brussels (1975), Paris–Tours (1975), Züri-Metzgete (1976) and Brabantse Pijl (1976).

Amongst the stage races he won were the Four Days of Dunkirk (1973, 1975, 1976 and 1978), Paris–Nice (1977), Vuelta a Andalucía (1974 and 1975) and Volta a Catalunya (1977).

In recent years, he has been working at the Centrum Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders Museum) in Oudenaarde.

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