Tragedy may result in Dutch city scaling back celebrations around race departure

The death of four people when a helicopter carrying journalists covering the Tour de Port sportive crashed near Rotterdam yesterday has cast a shadow over the Dutch city’s preparations to host the Grand Départ of the Tour de France this Saturday.

One journalist survived the crash, according to Radio Netherlands Worldwide, and is in a stable condition in hospital, but two of his press colleagues as well as the pilot and a race official lost their lives.

The crash, the cause of which is unknown, was witnessed by many of the amateur cyclists taking part in the Tour de Port, which was immediately suspended, with counseling offered to participants who had watched the tragedy unfold as the helicopter fell to earth in a nature reserve to the west of the city.

It is believed that the crash may result in celebrations of the Tour de France’s departure from the Netherlands being toned down. After last year’s Vuelta and May’s Giro d’Italia, it is the third Grand Tour to start in the country.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.