31 Mar, 2016

Tragedy Hits Road Cycling in Europe


Tragedy struck in the 243km Gent-Wevelgem cycling classic in Belgium on Sunday when Belgian rider Antoine Demoitié of team Wanty-Groupe Gobert was involved in a crash and was then hit by a race marshal’s motorbike. He passed away later in hospital.

With approximately 115km remaining in the race, the riders had just begun their brief loop across the border into Sainte-Marie-Cappel, in the northern region of France, when four riders went down in a crash. All four riders were taken to hospital in Ypres, but the extent of Demoitié’s injuries only became apparent there and he was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the University Hospital. The other three riders involved in the crash were kept at the hospital in Ypres, all being released the same day with minor injuries.

That evening, the Wanty-Groupe Gobert Team issued an update on twitter, describing Demoitié’s condition as “very serious” and reporting that his wife and family had arrived to be by his side at the hospital in Lille.



Shortly after midnight, the team manager, announced on twitter that Demoitié had passed away as a result of his injuries.

An article published on Cycling News (insert hyperlink) included this eye-witness account of the accident: “The cyclists were travelling at a fairly quick pace when they came together and fell right in front of the motorcyclist, who had no time to react. The motorcyclist had nowhere to go and unfortunately ploughed into the group of cyclists involved in the accident.”

Later, in a press conference, spokesman for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais Regional Gendarmerie in France (French Police Department), Frederic Evrard said in response to the accident, “An inquiry is now underway to determine the circumstances of this tragic accident.”

News of the death of Demoitie spread quickly and was soon all over the news and social media. Many top riders, including two-time Tour De France winner Chris Froome and former World Champion Mark Cavendish took to twitter to express their sadness at the news of their fellow rider’s death, and to offer their condolences to the Demoitie Family.



Tom Devriendt, Kenny Dehaes, Gaetan Bille and Mark McNally were among the Wanty-Groupe Gobert riders that had been riding with Demoitié throughout the race. The Belgian’s teammates were among the first to post messages on Monday and were joined by riders from a range of different teams and nationalities. Sep Vanmarcke, the Belgian rider who claimed second spot in the race behind World Champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia, was another to pay tribute to Demoitie on Twitter: “Suddenly, my second place finish is no longer of any importance after this terrible news. Rest in peace, Antoine Demoitié, and good luck to all."