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Sonny Colbrelli has defibrillator fitted after collapsing at Volta a Catalunya finish

The 2021 Paris-Roubaix winner was discharged from hospital today and says it will be a “miracle” if he races again

Reigning Paris-Roubaix champion Sonny Colbrelli was discharged from hospital in Italy today, 48 hours after having a defibrillator fitted following his collapse at the Volta a Catalunya.

The Bahrain-Victorious rider collapsed and lost consciousness moments after finishing second to Michael Matthews on the opening stage of the week-long Spanish race on 21 March.

His team later confirmed that the European champion suffered an unstable cardiac arrhythmia. Paramedics were quickly on the scene with a defibrillator, and performed CPR to help the rider regain consciousness.

> Sonny Colbrelli in stable condition in hospital after collapsing at Volta a Catalunya finish 

Colbrelli spent a week in hospital in Girona before being transferred to a specialist heart disease centre in Padua, Italy. On Thursday he underwent a successful subcutaneous defibrillator (ICD) implantation operation. According to the rider’s doctor, Professor Domenico Corrado, the device “works to correct the rhythm of the heart if it’s needed in extreme cases.”

Professor Corrado said: “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. The decision to implant a life-saving device has been shared by Colbrelli who received a subcutaneous ICD.”

In Italy it is not permitted to take part in competitive sport if you have a permanent subcutaneous defibrillator fitted, a position which led to the termination of Christian Eriksen’s Inter Milan contract last December after the Denmark international collapsed during the European Championships, and which may also prove a major stumbling block to Colbrelli’s hopeful return to the peloton, at least in his home country.

Colbrelli, who said last week that it was a “miracle” that he survived, told La Gazzetta dello Sport from hospital that he was initially optimistic about a rapid return to racing but, after speaking with his doctors, is now exercising caution. 

“It's already a miracle I'm alive, now it would take another to get me back on the saddle,” he said. “I know I've been lucky but I don't want to end things like this.”

The 31-year-old had been hoping to build upon what was undoubtedly the best season of his life in 2021, when he won the Benelux Tour, the European Championships, and – most dramatically – a muddy, autumn edition of Paris-Roubaix ahead of Mathieu van der Poel and Florian Vermeersch.

Colbrelli started 2022 in much the same vein, finishing second behind a rampant Wout van Aert at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, before withdrawing early from Paris-Nice due to bronchitis.  

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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