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An autopsy carried out on Alessio Galletti, who died while competing in Wednesday's Subida al Naranco in northern Spain, has provisionally confirmed that the 37-year-old Italian died as the result of a heart attack. It will be three months before definitive results of the autopsy are released, during which time further tests will be carried out to establish what may have led to the Naturino team rider's heart attack.
Galletti's wife and mother have travelled from Italy to Spain and will return to Rome with Galletti's body on Saturday.
There have been some complaints about the length of time it took for medical staff on the race to reach Galletti after the rider came to a halt on the Manzaneda climb 15km from the finish. As Galletti lay on the ground complaining of chest pains and an inability to breathe before falling unconscious, Spanish national team riders Javier Lindez and Juan Manuel Rivas tried vainly to revive him.
The first ambulance on the scene - which is reported to have arrived after seven minutes - did not have the equipment needed to attempt to resuscitate Galletti. It is reported in this morning's edition of AS that it was 15 minutes before a heart defibrillator was brought to the scene, but at that point Galletti could not be revived.
The race organisers have pointed out that the riders were very stretched out towards the end of a tough one-day event that included five climbs. Two ambulances were with the race, one at the front and one at the back, and the delay in reaching Galletti was, according to the organisers, due to the fact that he was in a group of riders in between.
Rivas and Lindez described to AS the confusion at the scene as they tried to help Galletti while other riders offered advice on what should be done. "I tried to help him in every way I could," said Rivas, "but there was a lot of confusion and nervousness. Someone would suggest one thing and others would say no to it. When we reached him Javier Lindez couldn't find a pulse in his wrist, but there was one in his neck. But I think he died quite soon after this."
Lindez gave the stricken Italian heart massage while a member of the Spanish Guardia Civil tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. When the first ambulance arrived it contained nothing more than a bed in the back. So desperate was Lindez at this point that he called his girlfriend, a casualty ward nurse in Barcelona, to ask advice on resuscitation techniques.
Lindez and Rivas both said that Galletti may have been saved if a defibrillator could have reached the scene quicker. According to the emergency services, it took just 15 minutes for the ambulance equipped with the defibrillator to travel the 18km from the finish to the point where Galletti collapsed.
Meanwhile, in Italy, Galletti's former team manager at Amore e Vita, Ivano Fanini, has been telling the press that Galletti had had persistent problems getting a medical certificate allowing him to compete. According to Fanini, these problems dated back a number of seasons, although the reason why there were doubts over Galletti's health has not been revealed.
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