23-year-old Australian pro Jason Lowndes has been killed after a motorist hit him from behind near Bendigo yesterday afternoon. The Herald Sun reports that the driver, a 20-year-old woman, stopped at the scene and is assisting police with their inquiries.
Lowndes had been riding to meet someone on Sedgwick Road, Mandurang, when he was hit from behind at about 10.15am. He was flown to hospital, but later died.
He rode for Drapac in 2016, Israel Cycling Academy this year and had signed to ride for British team JLT-Condor for the season ahead.
In a statement, Israel Cycling Academy said: “We are deeply grieved by the tragic death of our dear friend, rider, and teammate, Jason Lowndes. Jason, who just celebrated his 23rd birthday eight days ago, was hit by a car while training today on his bike near his home town in Bendigo, Victoria.
“Jason raced for Israel Cycling Academy during the 2017 season and his constant broad smile, ever cheerful personality, and warm heart will be terribly missed forever by all of us. We wish to send our deep condolences to Jason's family and friends all over the world. Good bye, wonderful mate.”
JLT-Condor said: “We are devastated to learn of the passing of Jason Lowndes this morning. The peloton has lost a friend, a teammate and a family member. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Rest in peace.”
Lowndes death has brought to the fore the issue of minimum passing distances in the state of Victoria.
Most other Australian states have introduced, or are trialling, minimum passing distance laws, but ABC reports that in March the Victoria government rejected a recommendation to introduce a mandatory 1.5m gap for vehicles passing cyclists. It said it would try a public education campaign first.
Many social media users have been employing the hash tag #ametrematters in posts about Lowndes’ death.