Belgian rider, 23, dies after mid-race cardiac arrest

Michael Goolaerts, 23, died in hospital on Sunday, hours after suffering heart failure during the gruelling Paris-Roubaix one-day classic race in France.
Michael Goolaerts, 23, died in hospital on Sunday, hours after suffering heart failure during the gruelling Paris-Roubaix one-day classic race in France.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Belgian rider Michael Goolaerts has died after suffering heart failure during Sunday's Paris-Roubaix one-day classic, his team announced.

"It is with unimaginable sadness that we have to communicate the passing of our rider and friend Michael Goolaerts," the Veranda's Willems team said in a statement posted on Twitter, revealing that the 23-year-old died late on Sunday evening in a hospital in the northern French city of Lille.

"He died of cardiac arrest, all medical assistance was to no avail."

The Belgian, who was competing in the one-day classic for the first time, had been airlifted to hospital after being found unconscious and not breathing by race doctors at the side of the road on a cobbled sector about 100km into the 257km race.

Television images showed Goolaerts on the ground, his arms crossed, with no other rider beside him.

"For now there will be no further communication as we want to give his close ones time to deal with this terrible loss," added Veranda's Willems in their statement.

Goolaerts became a professional rider in 2014 when he was just 20, starting out at Veranda's Willems and returning there after a spell with Lotto's youth set-up.

He had taken part in 20 days of racing this year, including starting the Tour of Flanders last week, although he did not finish that race.

He is also the fourth Belgian rider to die in recent years during a race.

Two years ago, another young rider, 22-year-old Daan Myngheer, died in hospital two days after suffering a heart attack on the Criterium International in Corsica.

Antoine Demoitie died following a crash with a motorbike during the Gent-Wevelgem road classic, also in 2016.

In 2011, Wouter Weylandt died after crashing during the Giro d'Italia.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2018, with the headline 'Belgian rider, 23, dies after mid-race cardiac arrest'. Print Edition | Subscribe