"In recent years I have often been inexplicably ill" - Oliver Naesen reveals celery was to blame for his lackluster 2023 season

Oliver Naesen, who was seemingly on a decline, resurged at the Tour of Flanders this spring, taking a step up along with the whole Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale formation. But in the end it turned out that something else was behind Naesen's struggle.

"In recent years I have often been inexplicably ill," Naesen begins his story at HLN. "It sounds stupid, but it's the truth: one day I was perfectly healthy, and the next day I was deathly ill. Nauseous, vomiting, not being able to get out of bed."

"At first I wasn't really sick. I was mostly tired and couldn't get through it. Time and time again the response was: it must be the flu and then I would be given antibiotics. But it kept getting worse: last year I was sick forty times. Sometimes several times a week. Really crazy. At one point I wondered if I was having a burnout? People asked me if I was depressed. Of course not, I was just tired. But it continued. I worried: was it over with me? Was my body spent?"

The cause had to be found somewhere else, in something very innocent: celery. "My blood has been drawn countless times, but nothing has ever been found. The breakthrough came when I reacted very strongly to celeriac one day. My throat closed. Dorien happened to not be at home. I thought I was going to have to call an ambulance."

Problem solved, although that is certainly easier said than done. "Celery is in f*cking everything. On Sunday after Roubaix we ate fries. I looked it up: the only 'meat' I could order in the chip shop was a Bicky Burger, everything else contains celery. So that's what I learned this week."

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