Colombian cycling is in mourning after the death yesterday of 22-year-old Diego Suta, killed when he lost control of his bike and crashed into a barrier on an descent during the country's national under-23 tour.
The young rider, racing for the Iceberg Bikes team, died instantly in the crash, which happened on a sharp bend 12 kilometres into the second stage of the race between Pasto and El Bordo, reports El Tiempo.
Team manager Mauricio Acosta told the newspaper: "We were behind the group and when we became aware of the accident, we stopped. Camilo, the mechanic of our team, Iceberg Bike, saw a cyclist was on the grass, we got off and we realised it was Diego, of course, despair and sadness came over us."
Suta, who was unable to attend high school due to his family's straitened economic circumstances, was said to be passionate about cycling and had ambitions of following his idol Rigoberto Uran and becoming a professional.
IAM Cycling's Jarlinson Pantano, winner of a stage at the Tour de France last month, expressed his condolences via Twitter, while Katusha's Jhonatan Restrepo, who is riding at the Vuelta, paid his respects by donning a black armband today.
— Team KATUSHA (@katushacycling) August 31, 2016
At the end of today's third stage of the Vuelta de la Juventud, the peloton saluted Suta as it crossed the line. The stage was won by his team mate, Santy Guzman.
— CiclismoInternacinal (@CiclismoInter) August 31, 2016
Suta stood out from other riders not least because of his flowing bleached blond curls. Team mate Jhon Zambrano said: "We called him 'El Pibe' because of his cute hair.
The nickname, used in several Spanish-speaking countries in South America, translates as 'The Kid' and in Colombia is most associated with the 1990s football star, Carlos Valderrama.
The Colombian national cycling federation has said it will pay for Suta's funeral.
Suta's death is another blow to cycling in a year that has seen several young riders killed or left with life-changing injuries following crashes in races including Wanty Gobert's Antoine Demoitié, who died in April of injuries sustained when he was run over by a motorbike after crashing at Gent-Wevelgem.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.