Belgian cyclist Antoine Demoitie dies after motorbike smash during race

A pack of riders competing during the 78th edition of the Gent-Wevelgem race on March 27, 2016.
A pack of riders competing during the 78th edition of the Gent-Wevelgem race on March 27, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

LILLE, FRANCE (AFP) - Belgian cyclist Antoine Demoitie, 25, died after he was struck by a motorbike following a fall during the Gent-Wevelgem race in Belgium on Sunday, police said.

"The rider died. An inquiry is under way to determine the circumstances," said Frederic Evrard, spokesman for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais regional gendarmerie in France.

Demoitie had been transported to a hospital in Lille after the accident in Sainte-Marie-Cappel, northern France.

The cyclist's Wanty team had earlier said Demoitie was in a "serious condition" in the hospital's intensive care unit.

"His wife and his family are at his side," the team wrote on Twitter.

The Gent-Wevelgem cobbled classic lived up to its gruelling reputation on Sunday, with riders battling strong winds as they tackled 10 climbs over a 243km route, including two ascents of the Kemmelberg.

Former Belgian national champion Jens Debusschere was also hospitalised after he sustained a concussion following a heavy crash, his Lotto-Soudal team said.

The race was won by Slovakia's Peter Sagan.