A Whanganui cyclist has "come back from the dead" after collapsing during a race at the weekend.

Paul Forrest collapsed with cardiac arrest on Sunday during the North Island Team Series in Masterton.

The 53-year-old was part of a seven-man Whanganui team - Velo Ronny's Trek Masters - and team manager Ron Cheatley said: "Paul literally died at the scene ... then Masterton rider Phil Sutherland came to his aid, giving CPR."

Mr Cheatley said that Mr Forrest's teammate, former Olympic cyclist Gary Anderson, was also quickly on the scene

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"Fortunately Gary, who is a Whanganui firefighter, rushed over minutes later, sharing CPR duties with Phil.

"Paul came around, but was in a bad way. An ambulance and a fire truck arrived and they began using the defibrillator.

"As luck would have it, a team of doctors who had also been racing arrived and took over. Three of them happened to work at Wellington Hospital and one, apparently, was a heart specialist."

Mr Cheatley said it took some time for the team of doctors to stabilise Mr Forrest enough to put him in a rescue helicopter and fly him to Wellington.

"One of the doctors, Chris Smith, a Wellington anaesthetist, had fallen earlier in the day and had broken his collarbone, so he had it all strapped up yet was still able to work on Paul - simply amazing stuff."

Mr Cheatley said Mr Forrest had "another turn" in the helicopter. "He died up to three times and was brought back - he's a very lucky man to have seen the other side and returned."

Mr Forrest underwent surgery in Wellington and was placed in intensive care.

However, Mr Cheatley told the Chronicle yesterday he had heard that Mr Forrest was being transferred back to Whanganui Hospital.

"His wife Bev said he's doing well, but, of course, still traumatised by the event," Mr Cheatley said.