A pro cyclist took a wrong turn on his WorldTour debut in Belgium on Friday – and finished the race 15 hours later.
Mekseb Debesay, who rides for African-based team Dimension Data, became lost while riding the 206km E3 Harelbeke, the year’s first cobblestone classic.
The Eritrean was rescued by a good Samaritan, who offered him food and a shower. He arrived at the team hotel 15 hours later, having cycled 240km.
Team sports director Pierre Heynderickx told Het Nieuwsblad newspaper: "It's an amazing story".
"He fell behind a small group that decided to take back roads to Harelbeke around 20 kilometres from the finish.
"Debesay was afraid of becoming lost and decided to follow the course arrows to get to the finish. Unfortunately, he wandered from the correct path."
When the 24-year-old Debesay’s computer told him he’d already cycled 206km he realised he was in trouble and asked a member of the public for directions to the finish.
"That man suggested that they should go together to his home in Lierde," Heynderickx said.
"He let him take a shower, gave him fresh clothes and offered food to our hungry rider...
"No one had any idea where he was. Then, suddenly, we received a phone call." The team had contacted police hoping for news of Debesay.
The race was won by Team Sky's Michal Kwiatkowski, who outsprinted Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) in a small breakaway group also containing Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo).