Mathieu Riebel, aged 20, lost his life while racing at the Tour Air France de Nouvelle-Caledonie

A young French professional cyclist has been killed in a crash involving an ambulance during a race on the Pacific island of New Caledonia.

Mathieu Riebel, aged 20, died instantly in the collision which happened on the descent of the Col de La Pirogue during Stage 9 of the Tour Air France de Nouvelle-Caledonie, reports France Info.

His Shell Pacific team mate, 31-year-old Erwan Brenterch, broke his leg in the same crash. It was reported that his life is not in danger.

Tomorrow’s final stage of the race in the French overseas territory, now in its 47th edition, has been cancelled, although other riders in the race have decided to ride part of the route to pay tribute to Riebel.

Organisers said in a statement that they wished to “convey their deepest condolences to Mathieu’s family as well as sparing a specific thought for his team mates and staff at the Shell Pacific team.”

A former junior national champion in the Madison, Riebel had been due to join the French national division 1 team Guidon Chalettois next season.

Riebel’s death comes in a week when Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme, speaking in Paris at Tuesday’s launch of the 2018 route, called for more to be done to improve the safety of riders during races.

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.