Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
As the 2022 edition of the race he won last year looms, Sonny Colbrelli is spending time with his family only a few weeks removed from collapsing at the Volta a Catalunya. The 2021 Paris-Roubaix champion has told La Gazzetta that he feels “lucky” to be alive, and that he has not yet reached the point of making the decision about whether to continue.
Colbrelli, 31, was hospitalized after suffering a cardiac arrhythmia at the finish of the Volta a Catalunya’s opening stage earlier this year. On the heels of a career-defining win at last year’s Paris-Roubaix, Colbrelli seemed primed for a big Classics campaign this spring. Instead, he underwent surgery in March to have a subcutaneous defibrillator implanted into his body.
“I will never stop thanking the doctors, my family, and the team,” Colbrelli told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “They were fantastic, they didn’t leave me for just a moment, comforting me. Little by little I started to see the other side of the coin.”
Colbrelli said that he has grappled with the frustration of his situation but that ultimately, he is trying to see the joy in being alive and with his family.
“Well, we all know that in this world, we are passing through. We never think about it, especially if we have a full life. Like that of cyclists. When I woke up in the hospital I struggled to understand what had happened: [it was] difficult to believe and accept,” Colbrelli said.
“At first I was angry with the world and I asked, ‘Why me?’ and ‘What did I do to deserve this?’ but you are looking for answers that you can’t find, that nobody can find. Those were the worst days.”
At present, it remains unclear whether Colbrelli will be able to resume racing professionally. Although he has resumed riding, the cause of his cardiac arrhythmia is not known, and even if he were healthy enough to compete, the presence of a subcutaneous defibrillator may make him ineligible to race. In Italy, for instance, athletes with the device are banned from competition.
Colbrelli told La Gazzetta that the time has not yet come to make any final pronouncements on the subject.
“There will be a time when we will do all the evaluations, then we will decide,” he said. “I have read so many untrue things about myself … I am fine and I am enjoying every moment. My children and my wife, first of all.”