Belgian cyclist Antoine Demoitie dies after hitting motorbike during Gent-Wevelgem
Belgian rider Antoine Demoitie has died following a collision with a motorbike at Gent-Wevelgem.
The Wanty Gobert rider, 25, was one of a number of riders involved in a crash around 90 miles into the Belgian semi-classic after the race had crossed briefly into France. Local media reported that he was struck by the motorbike while on the ground.
Demoitie was taken to hospital in Lille, with his team issuing a statement to say that he was in a "critical" condition and that his wife and family were with him. He later succumbed to his injuries.
Regional police spokesman Frederic Evrard: "The rider died. An inquiry is under way to determine the circumstances."
Wanty Gobert posted a photo on their official Twitter and Facebook pages showing a black-and-white photograph of the cyclist, with the text "Antoine Demoitie 1990-2016". The team said a statement would be issued on Monday.
The race was won by Slovakia’s world champion Peter Sagan [Tinkoff-Saxo].
A statement from Gianni Bugno, the president of the Professional Cyclists Association (CPA), called for lessons to be learned after the tragic death of Demoitie.
Bugno said: "About the terrible accident that caused the death of the rider Antoine Demoitie during the Gent-Wevelgem race, the CPA and all the riders demand to shed immediate light on the accident and the circumstances that have caused it as well as on any of the responsible involved parties.
"At this time of sadness and sorrow for the death of Antoine we do not want to make controversy, but we have so much frustration inside.
"We have always stated that the safety of the riders must be in first place in the discussions of the cycling stakeholders and at the last CCP meeting we specifically asked to communicate the strategies to improve security during the races.
"I do not want to accuse anyone but (I want to) make everyone reflect on the responsibility we have to ensure that a very high level of attention, awareness and control over safety standards during each race is maintained."
Ireland's Nicolas Roche and Dan Martin were among one of the first to react to the news on social media:
Very sad news about A Demoitie this morning.— nicholas roche (@nicholasroche) March 28, 2016
Horrible tragic news to wake up to. The cycling family has lost a brother. #RIPAntoine— Dan Martin (@DanMartin86) March 28, 2016
Passing the peloton on downhills and during crucial moments in a race, when speed is high and fight for position frantic is just not safe— Dan Martin (@DanMartin86) March 28, 2016
Motos are a necessity in our sport for both security and media presence. It's their conduct and the direction that needs governance— Dan Martin (@DanMartin86) March 28, 2016
Such tragic news. RIP Antoine Demoitie. My thoughts and condolences are with your family, friends and teammates.— Mark Cavendish (@MarkCavendish) March 28, 2016