Tributes have been paid to Herbalife Leisure Lakes rider Junior Heffernan, 23 from Yelverton in Devon, killed following a collision with a car during today's 41st edition of the annual Severn Bridge Road Race, which was abandoned at the request of riders shortly after the incident.
Avon and Somerset police have since issued a witness appeal and are particularly keen to speak to anyone that was filming the race. The Collision Investigation Unit can be contacted by phone b calling 101 or online at this address http://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/contact/crime_reporting/
According to riders we have spoken to the incident took place in the middle of the bunch which was fairly strung out on a fast descent of Vattingstone Lane near Olverston on the third lap of the 10 lap race not long after a break had been brought back and the car involved may have been either stationary or parked - the Severn Bridge Road Race is not a closed road event. However according to a later statement issued by Avon and Somerset Police the car was moving when the collision occurred.
Heffernan had been widely identified on social media as the rider involved, and confirmation came this evening from the race organisers, the Bristol Road Club. Today's race was his first as part of the Herbalife Leisure Lakes Team which he joined at the start of this season. Writing in his blog, Ride with the Heff on Friday, he talked about the race and finished by giving a sneak preview of his new kit and said he would "follow up with some (hopefully) good news after the weekend!"
Brian Cookson, president of British Cycling, was among those who paid tribute to the young rider from Devon.
"This is a tragedy which will profoundly sadden everyone associated with cycling in this country," said Cookson. "My thoughts are with Junior's family and with his friends."
The Severn Bridge Road Race has its HQ, start and finish in the village of Old Down and is over 10 laps of a 6.6 mile road circuit which proceeeds anti-clockwise from the start at Old Down, taking in Alveston, Elberton, Olveston, and Tockington before finishing again at Old Down.
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.