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Eye-witness: Fraught scenes at the Volta a Catalunya

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2022 - 101st Edition - 1st stage Sant Feliu de Guixol - Sant Feliu de Guixols 171,2 km - 21/03/2022 - Sonny Colbrelli (ITA - Bahrain Victorious) - Sergio Higuita (COL - Bora - Hansgrohe) - photo Luis Angel Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency©2022.
(Image credit: Luis Angel Gomez/SprintCyclingAge)

The Volta a Catalunya was flung into a state of shock late on Monday afternoon after Italian Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) fell unconscious moments after taking second place in the opening uphill bunch sprint.

After an exceptionally fast, rain-soaked afternoon, Monday’s stage ended on a short but intense uphill finish in the outskirts of Sant Feliu de Guixols with riders easing to a halt amidst a mass of soigneurs and other team helpers some 100 metres after the finish line. 

As often happens in a mass bunch sprint like Monday’s, organised chaos ensued, with riders spread quickly across the width of the road looking for their team staff and asking for directions to the team buses.

Podium proceedings had already got underway as normal a little closer to the line, when, just a few minutes after the finish, a series of urgent shouts for a doctor began from the left hand side of the road.

Bahrain Victorious staff attending the finish were quickly on the scene to assist the rider and a canvas screen was swifty placed around him. 

As a series of local ambulances, finally totalling four, reached the scene, and the tension mounted, police began clearing the immediate area and moving press and onlookers further back to the far side of the road and outside the barriers. 

Other riders who slowed and tried to find out what was happening as they threaded the way through the melee were unable to discover any more information.

Colbrelli’s bike remained leaned against an organisation car, while several medics attempted to help him. Meanwhile, more onlookers gathered outside a hastily formed police line.

Some 45 minutes after Colbrelli fell, he was moved in by stretcher to one of the ambulances and, after a short wait, it headed for hospital to the sound of its blaring siren.  

After the ambulance had left, rumours began to trickle through that Colbrelli was, thankfully, in a stable condition. However, it took an agonisingly - if utterly logical - long time to be confirmed as certain by the team. 

The team said later that Colbrelli has now been taken to a hospital in the nearby city of Girona, where he is receiving further medical attention.

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