Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl going slow with riders returning from COVID-19

Patrick Lefevere on Colbrelli scare: 'We do not know whether this cardiac arrest is the result of a coronavirus infection, but it is of course possible.'

Photo: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images

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The finish-line health emergency involving Sonny Colbrelli this week continues to rattle across the peloton.

Some wonder if there might be a link between coronavirus and what happened to the Italian star, who continues his recovery in a Spanish hospital. Colbrelli came back from a COVID-19 infection and in March left Paris-Nice early with fever before starting the Volta a Catalunya on Monday.

Although doctors have yet to confirm a direct cause to Colbrelli’s health emergency, teams are not taking chances.

Patrick Lefevere, team manager at Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl, said his team is among several who are insisting on increased health checks as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on unabated.

Lefevere isn’t discounting a possible link between what happened to Colbrelli and coronavirus.

“Of course, we do not know whether this cardiac arrest is the result of a corona infection, but it is of course possible,” Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad. “Corona is a dirty animal, and we don’t know what the longterm consequences may be. That is why we are very careful.”

Images of the Italian rider collapsing and being evacuated to a hospital in stage 1 at the Volta a Catalunya have raised questions about riders’ health in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Through doctors are still trying to figure out what caused Colbrelli’s cardiac arrhythmia in Monday’s stage, teams across the peloton are taking notice.

Also read: Doctors confirm Colbrelli suffered cardiac arrhythmia

The Colbrelli scare comes following a wave of illnesses at both Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, where scores of riders abandoned both WorldTour races. There were a few diagnosed COVID cases, but most cited bronchial infections and other flu-like symptoms. Colbrelli was among dozens of riders who exited Paris-Nice citing health problems.

Lefevere also pointed out the case involving Tim Declercq, the powerful front-line classics rider at Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl. The Belgian was infected with coronavirus and later was diagnosed with what team doctors confirmed was pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining of the heart.

Also read: Tim Declercq is sidelined with heart issue

Declercq is under a team-ordered rest period and so far has missed the early Belgian classics.

“With us it was Tim Declercq, who got an inflammation of the pericardium out of nowhere,” Lefevere told the Belgian daily. “When Tim became ill in the Tour of the Algarve, doctor Toon Cruyt immediately sent him to the emergency room. We weren’t sure.”

Lefevere said he doesn’t want to take risks with his riders, and is ordering longer rest periods and further health exams before they’re cleared to race.

“That is why if a rider of ours has COVID, he is immediately put on non-active. Even if he isn’t sick,” Lefevere said. “And before he can race again, he has to undergo a heart examination. But there is not only COVID itself. For example, we have seen with Yves Lampaert who takes longer than usual to heal.”

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