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Sonny Colbrelli announces retirement due to heart issues

The Italian rider Sonny Colbrelli has announced his retirement from cycling after having a defibrillator fitted. In Italy, there are laws against doing elite sport with an ICD device, notably, Christian Eriksen had to leave Inter Milan and join Brentford in England in order to carry on his career. For Colbrelli however, the risks of cycling with an ICD device are too great, with medical staff potentially further away and unable to treat as needed at the roadside. There is also the possibility of removing the defibrillator but that also poses a big risk that the Italian is unwilling to take.

Colbrelli collapsed at the Volta a Catalunya in March 2022, which necessitated the surgery. He was beaten to the finish line by a small margin thanks to the Australian Michael Matthews and the sprint effort triggered an unstable cardiac arrhythmia. He was treated in Spain at first before being moved back home to Italy.

Sonny Colbrelli became the first Italian in 22 years to win Paris Roubaix in October 2021. A result which came just 1 month after taking his first European championship. As a new monument winner, hopes had been high for the rider going into the 2022 season.

“Following the medical advice from his examinations, Sonny Colbrelli will retire from professional cycling after having a defibrillator fitted as a result of his collapse. It’s a different sport; you ride on the streets,” Colbrelli said in his statement. “You do not play it on a football pitch, where, in case of need, the interventions of the medical team can be timely.

Their training activities take place in a limited area, while in the case of a cyclist, you often find yourself alone for hours on little-travelled roads. But… removing the defibrillator is against the medical practice and means removing a lifesaver that is necessary as secondary prevention. A risk too high. A risk that I cannot afford to take.”

Sonny Colbrelli