LILLE (France) • The Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) has demanded an urgent investigation following the death of a cyclist after he was struck by a motorbike during the Gent-Wevelgem race.
Antoine Demoitie, 25, a Belgian rider, was hit after falling off his bike together with four other riders as the race passed through northern France on Sunday.
No details have been given about the motorcyclist involved in the collision in Sainte-Marie-Cappel.
"The CPA and all the riders demand that light is shed on the accident immediately and the circumstances that caused it," a CPA statement said.
Demoitie was taken to the University Hospital in Lille after the accident. He was in a coma before dying with his wife and family by his side.
Announcing his death, the Nord-Pas-de-Calais regional gendarmerie said that it was now investigating what had happened.
Mark Cavendish, the British rider, was not involved in the race but was among several professional cyclists to offer their condolences.
"Such tragic news. RIP Antoine Demoitie," the Manxman wrote on Twitter. "My thoughts and condolences are with your family, friends and team-mates."
Gianni Bugno, the CPA president, said it was a time of "sadness and sorrow".
"We have so much frustration inside. We have always stated that the safety of the riders must come first," he said.
"Everyone has to reflect on the responsibility we have to ensure that a very high level of attention and awareness is maintained, plus control over safety standards during each race."
The Gent-Wevelgem cobbled classic lived up to its gruelling reputation, with riders battling strong winds as they tackled 10 climbs.
Jens Debusschere, the former Belgian national champion, was also treated in hospital for concussion after a heavy crash.
The 243-kilometre one-day race was won by Peter Sagan of Slovakia.
THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS