Noted Six Day rider Marco Villa was forced to retire early when he learned that he had an irregular heart rhythm, UIV.dk reported this week. The 39-year-old Italian was intending to retire next February, but learned of his condition after a medical control for Olympic candidates earlier this year.
Villa said, "Originally it was my plan to stop after next winter, with the Six Days in Cremona in February 2009 as my definitively last race. But as a member of the group of Olympic candidates in Italy, I was called in for the normal health-control. That control showed some irregularities in my heart rhythm.
"They couldn't exactly tell me what was wrong, but the doctor's advice was that I should refrain from racing for at least a few months," he explained. "At my age it is not so easy to take a longer break, so I decided to stop now instead of taking any risks. I have had a wonderful career and I have a lot of good memories, and I want to let it be like that."
Villa's successful career had its peak when he partnered with Silvio Martinello to take two Madison World Championships (1995 and 1996) and a bronze medal at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. The pair also took 16 Six Day titles. After Martinello's retirement in 2004, Villa went on to serve as a 'taxi driver' in the Six Day circuit, partnering with whichever rider the organiser paired him with, often an up-and-coming rider or a road star like Paolo Bettini.
In total, Villa scored 24 career Six Day victories, which places him as best Italian in Six Day history.