The condition meant the RoadCover rider was off the bike for the next five months and could only return to training roughly eight weeks ago.
After the five-day tour in the Western Cape, Van Heerden reported that he felt fatigued during rides and increasingly ill off it. Even after recovery, his heart rate was irregular and higher than usual.
“I was constantly feeling faint,” he told In the Bunch today. “I went to the doctor and they found my heart was out of rhythm, so they sent me for more tests and it was finally diagnosed in mid-April.”
The diagnosis forced him to spend the bulk of the season in the proverbial cycling gutter, but, now that he is over the worst, the 23-year-old is determined to make the most of what is left.
“Hopefully this weekend will be better than my previous two races, but my hopes for this weekend is that the team will do well. My goal is just to help them smash it.”
While the title won’t be on his agenda this year, the Hatfield resident said he would undoubtedly have it on his radar in the years to come.
He said Willie Smit, who signed for WordTour team Katusha-Alpecin recently, would also be on the team roster, but that the African continental champion and triple Lowveld Tour winner was coming off a period of rest after his exploits this season.
Defending champion Brendon Davids, who returned from a successful stint in Australia recently, will also be at the start.
“Brendon will be back and although we haven’t discussed any team plan, he’ll be a contender,” said Van Heerden.
He predicted that the action would start in the final 20km and felt the 21st edition of the 95km race would be decided in that stretch.
“The beginning always has some breakaways to establish, and I’m sure there will be a breakaway within the first 30km, but after last year I don’t think the bunch will let them go.
“The last 20km will be the decider I think – there will be some big action there.”