Rider deaths overshadow weekend cycle races


Two local cyclists died in races this weekend, with Antoine Demoitie being hit by a motorcycle during Gent-Wevelgem and Daan Myngheer having a heart attack in France's Critérium International

CPA demands answers

The death of Belgian rider Antoine Demoitie after he was hit by a motorcycle during the Gent-Wevelgem classic race on Sunday has shocked the cycling world. The 25-year-old, a member of Belgian team Wanty-Groupe Gobert, fell about 150 kilometres into the race in Sainte-Marie-Cappel, during a brief crossing over the border from Belgium into northern France.

Demoitie (pictured centre) was then hit by a motorbike while on the ground, before being transported to a hospital in Lille, where he succumbed to his injuries. Two-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome paid tribute to Demoitie on social media, saying: “So sad to hear of the passing of Antoine Demoitie.” British road racer Mark Cavendish also tweeted, saying: “Such tragic news. RIP Antoine Demoitie.”

A statement from Gianni Bugno, the president of the Professional Cyclists Association (CPA), called for action to be taken to prevent another such incident from happening again. “The CPA and all the riders demand that immediate light be shed on the circumstances that caused the accident as well as on any of the responsible parties involved,” he said.

The death overshadowed the Gent-Wevelgem victory by world champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia. Sagan, who finished runner-up at the E3 Harelbeke race last week, won ahead of Sep Vanmarcke and Vyacheslav Kuznetsov, with one-day classic specialist Fabian Cancellara in fourth place.

Flemish rider Daan Myngheer of team Roubaix Lille Métropole, meanwhile, experienced a heart attack during the Critérium International on Saturday. The 22-year-old Roeselare-born riderbecame ill after the morning stage of the race on Corsica and was beinig transported by ambulance to the hospital when he had a heart attack.

Emergency medical personnel were able to get his heart going, but he was in a coma in hospital for several hours before succcumbing. "This loss has hit us really hard," said team manager Daniel Verbrackel. "In a team as small as ours, you get very close to one another, like a family. Daan loved to ride, and he loved the sport. We will miss him."

Photo courtesy Team Wanty-Groupe Gobert

Flemish cycling

Flemish cyclists have played a dominant role in the history of European bicycle racing. With the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), the region also has a classic cycle race.
Flandriens - The legendary pioneers of the Flemish cycling tradition are called “Flandriens”. They include Roger De Vlaeminck, Eddy Planckaert, Johan Museeuw and Walter Godefroot.
Eddy Merckx - Having won 525 races in his career, Brusselaar Eddy Merckx, nicknamed “the Cannibal”, is considered one of the greatest cyclists of all time.
Trophy - The annual Flandrien Trophy honours the best Belgian cyclist of the past season. Professional cyclists choose and vote for the nominees.

number of times Merckx won the Tour de France

1 913

first Tour of Flanders

1 969

Merckx becomes first Belgian to win the Tour de France in 30 years