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Colbrelli leaves hospital after defibrillator implant surgery

Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious)
Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Sonny Colbrelli has been discharged from hospital in Italy after undergoing a successful subcutaneous defibrillator (ICD) implantation operation on Thursday. 

“The device works to correct the rhythm of the heart if it’s needed in extreme cases,” Professor Domenico Corrado, the Director of the Genetic Cardiomyopathy and Sports Cardiology Unit of the Padova University hospital said in a statement from the Bahrain Victorious team on Saturday. 

Colbrelli collapsed moments after finishing second in the uphill sprint on the opening stage of the Volta a Catalunya on March 26. He spent a week in hospital in Girona, Spain and was then transferred to the Padova hospital last Saturday to undergo further tests. The Padova University hospital is considered an Italian centre of excellence for diagnosing and treating arrhythmogenic heart muscle diseases. 

A few days after collapsing, Bahrain Victorious confirmed that Colbrelli had suffered an unstable cardiac arrhythmia that required defibrillation. Initial tests were said to show "no signs of concern" but follow-up examinations were described as "inconclusive" as to the underlying cause of the incident.

“In Padova, the athlete underwent comprehensive clinical, genetic and imaging evaluation to identify the cause of the arrhythmia that led to cardiac arrest and the most appropriate therapy,” Professor Domenico Corrado said. 

“The decision to implant a life-saving device has been shared by Colbrelli who received a subcutaneous ICD. The device works to correct the rhythm of the heart if it’s needed in extreme cases.”

Colbrelli has been active on social media during his stay in hospital and revealed to La Gazzetta dello Sport that he remembered little of what happened when collapsed. He was initially optimistic about rapidly returning to racing but both he and the doctors are now more cautious after it was confirmed he suffered an unstable cardiac arrhythmia and doctors used a defibrillator to restart his heart.

"I know I've been lucky but I don't want to end things like this…" La Gazzetta dello Sport quoted Colbrelli as saying when he was in hospital in Girona.

Colbrelli won the 2021 edition of Paris-Roubaix held in October a few weeks after winning the European road race championships. 

In Italy, athletes fitted with a subcutaneous defibrillator are not usually given permission to compete by sports doctors during medical testing but this is not the case in other countries.

However, last year Danish football player Christian Eriksen suffered a heart attack while playing for Denmark at the European Championships. He was fitted with a subcutaneous defibrillator implantation and now plays for Brentford in the English Premier League.

Bahrain Victorious said Colbrelli will continue his rehabilitation at home to guarantee privacy and peace for him and his family, wishing him a prompt recovery but also asking for everyone to respect the athlete’s privacy.

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Stephen Farrand

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.