Belgian rider Antoine Demoitié of UCI Professional Continental team Wanty-Gobert has died of his injuries after he was run over by a motorbike following a crash at Gent Wevelgem yesterday.
His death was confirmed late on Sunday evening by a spokesman for the regional gendarmerie in Nord-Pas-de-Calais where the incident occurred when the race briefly entered Northern France from Belgium. The Gendarmerie official also confirmed that an investigation was already underway in to the circumstances that led to Demoitié's death.
At the time of writing this update has been no further statement from Demoitié's team. Earlier in a tweet, Team Wanty described the condition of the 25-year-old Belgian rider as "extremely serious."
Demoitié was taken to hospital in Lille after the crash, which happened around 150 kilometres into the 243 kilometre race, won by world champion Peter Sagan of Tinkoff.
Shortly after 7pm UK time, his team tweeted this update on his condition.
Antoine Demoitié’s situation remains very serious. His wife and family are with him at the hospital in Lille.
— Team Wanty-Gobert (@TeamWantyGobert) 27 March 2016
The dangers posed by in-race vehicles - particularly motorbikes - to riders has become an increasingly vexed one in recent seasons. Last month in response to a number of incidents involving in-race motorbikes and riders BMC team boss Jim Ochowicz wrote an open letter to the UCI calling on the organisation to take action to increase rider safety. That letter was itself a follow-up to one Ochowicz wrote to the UCI a year year earlier on the same subject.
We can expect that calls for the UCI and race organisers to take action will increase dramatically following the tragedy that has befallen Antoine Demoitié, his family, and his team at Gent Wevelgem.
More to follow.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.