Cyclist dies after Gent-Wevelgem crash

Antoine Demoitie

Antoine Demoitie died in hospital after a collision with a motorbike

Belgian cyclist Antoine Demoitie has died after a collision with a motorbike during Belgium’s Gent-Wevelgem race.

The 25-year-old was hit by the motorbike after several riders came down in a crash as the race passed through northern France.

Demoitie was taken to hospital in the French city of Lille but died some time later.

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Two-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome and former world road race champion Mark Cavendish expressed their sympathy via Twitter

“An inquiry is under way to determine the circumstances,” said Frederic Evrard, a French police spokesman.

The sport’s governing body, the UCI, said it would cooperate with all relevant authorities in an investigation into the incident.

UCI president Brian Cookson said: “Antoine will be truly missed. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and team.”

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On Monday, Demoitie’s team, Wanty-Gobert, tweeted a black-and-white image of the rider, with his dates

Demoitie’s team, Wanty-Gobert, posted on Twitter while he was still in a critical condition to say that his wife and family were at his side, and once his death was announced added a simple black-and-white image, with the rider’s dates.

Former Belgian national champion Jens Debusschere was also taken to hospital after he was concussed following a heavy crash.

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German rider Marcel Kittel, and Welsh double Olympic gold medallist Geraint Thomas were among others to pay tribute, while Michael Rogers and Dan Martin also debated the regulation of motorbikes supporting races and implications for rider safety

The 243km, one-day race was won by Peter Sagan of Slovakia. World road race champion Sagan held off Sep Vanmarcke, Vyacheslav Kuznetsov and Fabian Cancellara to take victory.

Dutch rider Chantal Blaak won the women’s race by 84 seconds after riding clear from a breakaway group with 10km remaining.

Lizzie Armitstead was the first Briton to cross the finish line, two minutes 23 seconds behind her Boels Dolmans Cycling Team colleague.

BBC Sport’s Matt Slater

“In the immediate aftermath of a tragedy, thoughts of condolence must be paramount. Antoine Demoitie’s death has shocked everybody connected with the sport but shock is nothing compared to the appalling loss those who really knew and loved him will be feeling now.

“But once the initial reaction subsides, the wider cycling family must address how this happened and, if it is really honest with itself, admit this is a tragedy foretold.

“Simply put, bike races are now far more crowded than ever: there are cameramen on motorbikes, photographers on motorbikes, sponsors and VIPs in cars, mechanics on motorbikes, team cars, police motorbikes and sometimes up to 200 riders fighting for road space.

“Cycling is going through a purple patch in terms of participation but the economics of professional cycling remain precarious. Race organisers and teams depend on the exposure they get from television, which means more cameras, closer to the action. Without a compelling TV product, there are no bidding contests to host events, sponsors for teams, shop windows for manufacturers, role models for new fans.

“But without safe conditions to race, there are no riders, there is no sport. Cycling must find its balance.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cycling/35908455

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