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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, October 31, 2022

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History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies. - Alexis de Tocqueville

Paris–Roubaix: The Inside Story

Les Woodland's book Paris-Roubaix: The Inside Story - All the bumps of cycling's cobbled classic is available in print, Kindle eBook & audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Following defibrillator implant, Sonny Colbrelli retires from professional cycling

Here’s the news release from Colbrelli’s Bahrain Victorious team that we knew was coming:

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 shortly after finishing stage 1 of Volta a Catalunya on March 21st.

“A year ago in this period, I spent my days celebrating the most important victory of my career, Paris-Roubaix. I never thought I would find myself a year later to face one of the most challenging moments that life has put me in front of. But it’s my life that I want to be grateful for, a life I risked losing and which gave me a second chance. That of being here today, to remember that I came out of the Hell of the North as a winner, and I did it in a legendary way, which will remain in history and that I will be able to continue to tell my children. It is to them, my family and all the people closest to me that I owe this new life of mine. From them, I am drawing the strength to accept this moment of my sporting career that sees me here today to give up being able to add to my Palmares a victory in a Grand Tour or Flanders, a lifelong dream.”

A muddy Sonny Colbrelli wins Paris-Roubaix in 2021. Sirotti photo

Promptly assisted by the medical staff supported by Borja Saenz de Cos at the finish line in Catalunya, Colbrelli was taken into an ambulance to Hospital Universitari de Girona to investigate his condition further. The medical checks confirmed that the rider suffered from an unstable cardiac arrhythmia that required defibrillation.

Following this, Colbrelli was transferred to the Cardiology Clinic of the University of Padua, where he underwent clinical cardiovascular evaluation coordinated by Professor Domenico Corrado. Based on the clinical evaluation results, in agreement with the rider and team medical staff, Sonny Colbrelli went through a successful intervention of subcutaneous defibrillator (ICD) implantation; a life-saving device that works to correct the rhythm of the heart if it’s needed in extreme cases.

“After what happened at Catalunya, the hope of being able to continue being a professional rider has never abandoned me, albeit minimal. I knew that the way back would be difficult with a defibrillator. In Italy, it is not allowed by law. With the support of the team’s medical staff, directed by Dr Zaccaria, I did not give up anyway. I resumed cycling under strict medical supervision and underwent several visits and consultations with specialists in the sector. Among these, the director of the University Clinic of Padua, Prof. Corrado, who followed the implantation of the defibrillator. And an evaluation was also made by those who have followed similar cases, such as the footballer Christian Eriksen, who, like me, has a defibrillator and has resumed his professional career. But cycling is not football. It is a different sport; you ride on the streets. You do not play it on a football pitch, where, in case of need, the interventions of the medical équipe 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.

"Precisely this is what makes it more complicated to take another path to be able to compete again. Remove the defibrillator. I admit I considered it. But as mentioned, cycling is different from football. For the reasons mentioned, but above all, also for the intensity of the effort. But first of all, 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. For me, for the opportunity that life, God I believe in, has given me. For Adelina, for Vittoria and for Tomaso. For my parents.

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"I say goodbye to cycling and try to do it with a smile for the good it gave me, even if it hurts to say goodbye after a season like last year. That was the best of my career. I learned what life offers and what life takes. But it also gives back in a different form. I’m ready to keep trying to be a champion, like on the bike. I will stay in cycling with the Bahrain Victorious, who have been close to me like a second family and will accompany me in this transition period from a rider to a new role that will evolve daily. I will be an ambassador for our partners, work closely with the performance group, and share my experience with my teammates.

"I was delighted to see how the children have taken me as a model in recent months. Maybe, I tell myself, because the man covered in mud looks a bit like a superhero. For them, I would like to do something sooner or later. Meanwhile, I will also have the opportunity to be a reference for Team Bahrain Victorious and the development teams: Cycling Team Friuli and the Cannibal U19.

Colbrelli wins stage six of the 2021 Tour of the Benelux. Sirotti photo.

"New challenges await me, and with courage, I prepare to face them. I want to do it with a smile on my face. Continue to rejoice in every ride I will do, even if only for fun and no longer for competition.”

Managing Director Milan Erzen: “Sonny has been part of this team from the very beginning. He is a champion, and I’m pleased that we could give him the support to achieve incredible results. The most important thing is that Sonny is healthy. We are pleased that Sonny will continue with us and share his experience across our team and our development teams.”

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Mickaël Leveau joins Arkéa-Samsic as sports director

Here’s the team’s announcement:

Mickaël Leveau will take up the position of sports director for the Arkéa-Samsic team next year.

Mickaël Leveau:
“It was Emmanuel Hubert, General Manager, who contacted me to ask me to join the group of sports directors of the Arkéa-Samsic team. I already had in mind this project of professional progression. It was a goal to work in a UCI WorldTour team. I took the opportunity that Emmanuel Hubert offered me. Now it’s up to me to demonstrate my skills. What I appreciate most in this job is the human side, as well as the tactical sense that it requires. The strength of a team manager must be to show great psychological strength towards his riders. The strength of a team manager must be to show great psychological strength towards his riders. A race requires a real strategic reflection beforehand, with pieces to be assembled with each other. I also like to be close to my riders so that they can interact with each other in order to make the best strategic choices for the races that they and I will have to compete in. It’s a job made up of exchanges, communication and sharing. I’ve already worked for the professionals in the Véranda Rideau, Israel Start Up Nation and last year with GoSport Lille Métropole. Before that, by choice of life, I had a career as a sports director in the amateur ranks, where I learned a lot, a profession that I coupled with a position as a referee pilot officiating on the main competitions organised by ASO, including the Tour de France”.

Emmanuel Hubert, General Manager:
“Mickaël Leveau has a well-known name in French cycling. A name that is a reference, and he has made a name for himself over the years, particularly as a sports director. He could have joined our team a few seasons ago, but finally it is in 2023 that our paths will cross, with this passionate of our sport who has been for many years a pilot on the races organised by ASO. A trainer of very good riders when he worked in the amateur ranks, Mickaël Leveau knows how to lead men. A quality that is necessary for the job of sports director. Young, but nevertheless experienced and dynamic, Mickaël has all the qualities needed to fulfil his profession within our structure.

Théo Ouvrard, Sport Manager:
“Mickaël Leveau is a sports manager who already has a lot of experience in this position. He also knows the races on the French calendar perfectly, and is very complementary to the team’s existing sports directors. His integration within our DS group will be rapid, naturally I would say. Mickaël will reinforce the existing group dynamics by bringing his own qualities, especially human qualities. He has also worked as a team manager for amateurs and continental teams, which has enabled him to learn the trade and above all to master all its characteristics. He knows how to manage riders in a wide variety of situations, and his ability to adapt to the situations he encounters will be his strength.

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Jumbo-Visma reports on women’s Maasmechelen CX race

Laurens Sweeck of the Crelan-Fristads team won the men’s race.

Here’s Jumbo-Visma’s report:

Marianne Vos has finished sixth in Maasmechelen. The 35-year-old Dutchwoman rode her inaugural CX World Cup of the cyclo-cross season but could not yet contend for the spots in Belgium.

Marrianne Vos winning the 2018 Heusden-Zolder CX race.

Vos, who started from the second row, got stuck at the first steep slope and had to start pursuing. Early on, it became apparent that the Team Jumbo-Visma rider couldn't keep up with the front group's speed. Vos rode her own race, grew stronger and as the race progressed, and, following a catch-up race, crossed the line in sixth place.

"I started from the second row and immediately tried to go with the best, but I noticed it took a lot of effort”, Vos said. "That's why I had to let go in the second lap and take my own pace. Then I tried to ride a clean race. That went well, but accelerating was no longer an option. The black numbers are doing incredibly well at the moment. The level is very high. That forces me to get the best out of myself as well. This is a fitting result today. I am satisfied."

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