Diego Ulissi has been given the green light to return to training after taking a break due to cardiac abnormalities but has since been allowed to return to the bike after tests revealed nothing of any worry for the Italian.
Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) had a very strong 2020 with two stage wins at the Giro d’Italia and the overall at the Tour de Luxembourg among other excellent performances, but it was in the off-season where the abnormalities were found.
UAE Team Emirates released a statement saying: “The results of the cardiac biopsy carried out on Diego Ulissi on January 21 at the Riuniti hospital in Ancona, Italy excluded Congenital Cardiomyopathies and confirmed an older Myocarditis, likely of viral origin, whose etiological agent has not been identified.
“The biopsy found the absence of risky arrhythmias for the athlete during the electrophysiological study, which will allow for the progressive resumption of training.
“In any case, a periodic monitoring period will follow before confirming any definitive return to racing.”
The original assumption by the team doctor, Dr Michele Di Grandi, was that it was a form of myocarditis; an inflammation of the heart muscle that can cause irregular or rapid beats by disturbing the heart’s electrical system.
Most of the time, myocarditis gets better on its own or with some treatment, leading to full recovery. With mild cases it is advised that people should avoid competitive sports for around three to six months.
Ulissi is not down to ride any races as of yet, but he will be hoping that he can return to the Giro and try and go one better than last year and potentially get three stage wins added to his long list of victories.
When Ulissi discovered the abnormalities he said: “I cannot hide the feeling of worry and anger. I’ve never had any sign of it, I’ve always felt good; Fortunately, the team’s medical staff were quick to act and discovered this abnormality.
“I will take a break now which I hope will be temporary, bearing in mind that the priority is health, because life does not end with cycling.
“I have just finished what has perhaps been my best season ever, with a consistent run of high level performances from January to October which also earned me the Top Ten in the UCI individual ranking. I was already beginning my preparation for 2021 with the desire to build on last year’s results.
“Now, however, I find myself facing this unexpected situation. I think my state of mind is understandable for everyone.
“A heartfelt thanks to all at UAE Team Emirates who are taking great care of me through this unfortunate time.”