Sonny Colbrelli: I haven't given up hope on return to racing

 Sonny Colbrelli Bahrain Victorious Italy
Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) hopes to return to racing following his cardiac arrest (Image credit: DAVID STOCKMANBelgaAFP via Getty Images)

Former Paris-Roubaix winner Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) says he remains hopeful of a return to racing although he recognises that there is still some way to go before that can even become a potential option.

Following his near-fatal cardiac arrest in the Volta a Catalunya, last month it was reported that Colbrelli was recovering well and on the point of beginning leisure rides and light physical activity.

In an interview with Eurosport earlier this week, Colbrelli confirmed he is now going out on his bike again, "something that people thought I wouldn't be able to do anymore after what happened in Spain."

As for whether he had given up hope of a return to racing, the Bahrain Victorious rider answered directly, "I haven't."

"I'm here, I'm fine. That's what matters now and health is the most important thing in this life.

"I'm happy but we just need to be patient. That's the first thing they told me – to be patient, and I am. I tried to remain calm during these months of inactivity.

"There will come a time where we have some important tests to do and then we'll understand if I can return or if I need more days or even months of recovery."

Colbrelli rode with some of his Bahrain Victorious teammates on Thursday, the first time he had done so since his cardiac arrest.

"Beautiful," he described  the ride. "I can't deny that when I got there I had to wipe away a tear because hugging my staff and teammates feels really good. I still feel like I'm among them and what can I say – those 50 or 60km will really be beautiful for me forever."

After a spell in hospitals in Catalunya and Italy, it was confirmed that Colbrelli, 31, had suffered an unstable cardiac arrhythmia that required defibrillation. Colbrelli was fitted with a subcutaneous defibrillator inserted below his collarbone, the device ready to reset his heart if he suffers another sudden cardiac arrest.

He has since then has been receiving regular checkups at the Sports Cardiology Unit in the University of Padua.

In the wake of such a traumatic experience, Colbrelli told Eurosport that he had become much more aware of how fortunate he had been and that he was now a changed man.

"To tell the truth, when I wake up in the morning I just try to smile," he said. "I realise we're only here for a certain amount of time and I only have one chance. I'm lucky to be here."

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.