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Mathieu Riebel, aged 20, lost his life while racing at the Tour Air France de Nouvelle-Caledonie

A young French professional cyclist has been killed in a crash involving an ambulance during a race on the Pacific island of New Caledonia.

Mathieu Riebel, aged 20, died instantly in the collision which happened on the descent of the Col de La Pirogue during Stage 9 of the Tour Air France de Nouvelle-Caledonie, reports France Info.

His Shell Pacific team mate, 31-year-old Erwan Brenterch, broke his leg in the same crash. It was reported that his life is not in danger.

Tomorrow’s final stage of the race in the French overseas territory, now in its 47th edition, has been cancelled, although other riders in the race have decided to ride part of the route to pay tribute to Riebel.

Organisers said in a statement that they wished to “convey their deepest condolences to Mathieu’s family as well as sparing a specific thought for his team mates and staff at the Shell Pacific team.”

A former junior national champion in the Madison, Riebel had been due to join the French national division 1 team Guidon Chalettois next season.

Riebel’s death comes in a week when Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme, speaking in Paris at Tuesday’s launch of the 2018 route, called for more to be done to improve the safety of riders during races.

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.

3 comments

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don simon [1518 posts] 1 month ago
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RIP brother.

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Gkam84 [9111 posts] 1 month ago
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Without knowing all the facts, it's just a sad accident and my heart goes out to his family and all the others involved.

Having taken a team to the Caribbean this season, I do worry for the safety of riders in French territory races like this one. As it isn't down to local co-ordinators to set these races up, it all comes from the French cycling association and is controlled centrally in France. This left for many shortcomings in the Caribbean, lack of officials cars meant that when a break went up the road and a chase group went, there was no coverage in between, police and local marshals letting traffic go. I had to put my team car in as a lead car a number of times.

There isn't stopping an Ambulance, but if like in Martinique, there weren't enough vehicles to cover the riders, something needs changing.

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davel [1964 posts] 1 month ago
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Isn't limited to French territories, or even solely bike racing. Tim Don was taken out during Kona week (fractured neck) and Matt Russell was taken out during the frigging race.