The young Australian climber Robert Power will delay his debut for the ORICA-GreenEDGE team after the return of a knee injury that kept him sidelined for the second half of his 2015 season in the U23 ranks. The 20-year-old West Australian returned to training in recent weeks only for his knee soreness to return and worsen.
Power subsequently went under comprehensive testing at the recent team camp in Canberra. ORICA-GreenEDGE medical director Dr Peter Barnes along with a panel of experienced and respected sports physicians diagnosed the 20-year-old with Bone Marrow Oedema Syndrome – a form of bone stress with an MRI appearance similar to a bone bruise but not related to trauma and without obvious explanation.
Barnes, who has followed Power’s progress since his signing with the Australian outfit early this year, said he’d never seen this condition in a young athlete in 40 years of sports medicine.
“Rob has been experiencing pain while climbing and doing strength endurance efforts,” Dr Barnes explained on the team’s website. “The frustrating thing for him as a young athlete is that he can walk, run and jump with no pain at all and is perfectly normal to clinical examination.”
“We took him through a variety of testing at the AIS, including MRI, bone scans, Bone Density Scan and blood tests, and then sat down as a group to provide some answers.
“Whilst it’s extremely uncommon, the condition is well described in the medical literature and unfortunately there is no ‘cure’. What we do know, however, is that it will heal itself in time. The big question is when and the literature says it’s could be anywhere between four and 24months.”
Whilst Power is forced off the bike for the foreseeable future, collaboration with the West Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) may see the young climber access the elite swimming and kayaking programs to maintain his fitness while avoiding weight bearing activities and cycling.
“We are extremely lucky in Australia to have access to the resources we do,” Dr Barnes continued. “Not only did we have some of the world’s best on hand to diagnose the problem, but we also have a facility like WAIS in Rob’s home town that can provide a program and support him to a full recovery.”
Whilst disappointed in having to delay his debut into professional cycling, Power remains positive for a return to the bike as soon as possible.
“Of course it’s disappointing that I can’t join the ORICA-GreenEDGE boys as planned early next year,” Power said. “As frustrating as any injury can be, especially one that you can’t do much to assist in its recovery, I’m grateful that we now know what the problem is.”
“I appreciate the level of support shown to me by my team, the AIS and WAIS and I’m extremely motivated to use this time productively to not only recover fully, but to further my development in other areas off the bike and return a more rounded rider and person.”
Sport director Matt White knows time is in Power’s favour.
“Rob is 20-years-old,” White said. “Obviously it’s disappointing for any athlete to have an injury that sidelines them from competing, but a lot of guys don’t turn professional when they are 20, 21 or 22 years of age so it’s not going to have a huge affect on his career at all.”
“We don’t know when he will be back but we do know that it will go away. In the meantime, it allows him to work on some other areas of his fitness that will assist his performance on the bike that may have otherwise taken a back seat in the short term.
“And then once it has followed its due course and he is ready, he will be straight back into the team.”