Sonny Colbrelli: I know I've been lucky but I don't want to end things like this

Eventual second placed Italian Sonny Colbrelli of Bahrain Victorious C rides during the mens elite race of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad oneday cycling race 2042km from Gent to Ninove on February 26 2022 Belgium OUT Photo by DAVID STOCKMAN Belga AFP Belgium OUT Photo by DAVID STOCKMANBelgaAFP via Getty Images
Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Image credit: DAVID STOCKMANBelgaAFP via Getty Images)

Sonny Colbrelli should be able to leave the Girona cardiology unit and return home to Italy in the next few days, as doctors try to understand what caused him to suffer an unstable cardiac arrhythmia after stage 1 of the Volta a Catalunya and investigate the long-term implications for his racing career.

Colbrelli's wife Adelina, his father Luca, and his agent Luca Mazzanti arrived in Spain today, with La Gazzetta dello Sport reporting he could be allowed home by the weekend.

Colbrelli has been active on social media during his stay in hospital and told the newspaper that he remembered little of what happened. 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.

"If he had suffered a heart attack during training, without a doctor and especially without a defibrillator nearby, Colbrelli could have died," Volta a Catalunya race doctor Alex Flor Costa suggested to Spanish newspaper El Periodico.

"I know I've been lucky but I don't want to end things like this…" La Gazzetta dello Sport quoted Colbrelli as saying on Wednesday.

Bahrain Victorious said initial tests showed no signs of concern or compromised functions of Colbrelli's heart, but his future as a professional rider remains unclear.

On Tuesday the Bahrain Victorious team confirmed the use of a defibrillator after Colbrelli suffered an unstable cardiac arrhythmia, with head team doctor Daniele Zaccaria having travelled to Spain to follow the detailed testing Colbrelli faces before he can head home.

He confirmed that Colbrelli's Garmin bike computer showed no abnormal heart rate data before he fell to the ground but was cautious about Colbrelli's recovery and his future.

"We're on the first page of a book that has still to be written. We're going to turn one page at a time," Zaccaria told Tuttobiciweb.

La Gazzetta dello Sport spoke to Ramon Brugada, the director of the cardiology unit of the Girona hospital, who suggested Colbrelli's collapse could have been caused by either a hereditary problem, a coronary artery blockage or problems related to the intensity of racing and training.

Colbrelli will undergo a heart scan, a cardiac angiogram and even genetic testing, which will require several weeks to know the full results. He is also expected to undergo further checks on his return to Italy.

Brugada was cautious about predicting if the incident will affect Colbrelli's racing career.

"Every patient is different but we've got to accept that his heart called out to stop and we've got to listen to the signals," the Catalan doctor said.

"I know it can be difficult for an athlete to go from racing to a hospital bed but it's important to understand the reality of what happened and accept it.

"We have to protect people's health by informing them of every aspect. It will then be up to the person involved, their family and team on what they do next. Some athletes have been able to continue, others have stopped. It's too early to make any predictions."

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Stephen Farrand
Head of News

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.