Belgian rider's death sees Tour of Poland halted for 1 day

Lotto-Soudal rider Bjorg Lambrecht (right) leading a breakaway during the first stage of the Criterium du Dauphine in June. The Belgian cyclist died on Monday after colliding into a concrete structure during the Tour of Poland.
Lotto-Soudal rider Bjorg Lambrecht (right) leading a breakaway during the first stage of the Criterium du Dauphine in June. The Belgian cyclist died on Monday after colliding into a concrete structure during the Tour of Poland.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WARSAW • Organisers of the Tour of Poland cancelled yesterday's scheduled fourth stage following the death of Belgian rider Bjorg Lambrecht.

"Out of respect for Bjorg, the organisers with the officials and the teams have decided that the fourth stage of the Tour of Poland will be cancelled," said a statement on the Tour website.

The 22-year-old died after colliding with a concrete structure around 30km into the third stage on Monday following rain.

He was resuscitated on the spot, then taken in a critical condition to a hospital in the southern city of Rybnik, where he died on the operating table.

"It wasn't a high-speed descent. It was a straight and wide road. He had a moment of hesitation, he left the asphalt and the tragedy occurred," said race director Czeslaw Lang.

"The injuries were so serious that we called for a helicopter and an ambulance. He was transported to hospital. His heart started beating again but he sadly died" during the operation, Lang said, quoted by PAP agency.

Lambrecht won the Under-23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege and finished second in the Tour de l'Avenir in 2017 behind this year's Tour de France winner Egan Bernal before turning professional last year with Lotto-Soudal.

This year, he placed 12th at the Criterium du Dauphine, winning the best young rider category, fourth in La Fleche Wallonne and sixth at the Amstel Gold.

Lambrecht's death brought a flurry of tributes across social media from all corners of the cycling world.

German Pascal Ackermann, who was handed the Stage 3 victory after the win was taken from Fabio Jakobsen for an irregular sprint heading into the finish line, paid tribute to Lambrecht.

"Today, the result of the race doesn't matter," Ackermann said.

"I was devastated to hear today's tragic news and I would like to personally send my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Bjorg Lambrecht and everyone at Lotto-Soudal."

Alejandro Valverde, the world road race champion last year, echoed Ackermann's comments.

"Deeply sorry for the loss of Bjorg Lambrecht, a cyclist who had demonstrated a lot in a few years," the Spaniard tweeted.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2019, with the headline 'Belgian rider's death sees Tour of Poland halted for 1 day'. Print Edition | Subscribe