Robert Verhaaren was taking part in the LoToJa race

A cyclist who lost control when he swerved to avoid a pothole in a race in the USA has died after falling about 35 feet off a bridge.

Robert Verhaaren, 42, of Mesa, Arizona, was taking part the 'LoToJa' race from Logan, Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming  - a 206 mile run that's billed as the longest one-day bicycle race in the country sanctioned by USA Cycling.

Verhaaren, an experienced rider who had completed the event on two other occasions, was only eight miles from the finish line when he was crossing Snake River on Saturday. He swerved into a guardrail that catapulted him off the edge, according to local sheriffs.

"It was devastating for us to lose a member of our LoToJa family," a race spokesman, David Bern, told The Associated Press.

"Unfortunately, these things go along with bicycle racing. Cycling is not for the risk averse."

"After every race, we discuss what worked and what didn't, what do we need to change and what do we need to improve," he said. "We had less crashes this year than usual, but the ones we had were more serious."

Verhaaren was married with three young children. His wife's sister is Olympic BMX cyclist Arielle Martin.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.