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Police say rider's dark clothing and light position made him difficult to see; driver admits he was distracted beforehand...

The inquest has opened into the death near Canberra in March last year of British ultracyclist Mike Hall, who was killed near the Australian capital while taking part in the Indian Pacific Wheel Race.

The 35-year-old died from head, spinal and back injuries after being hit from behind by a car driven by 19-year-old Shegu Bobb, who was on his way to work in Canberra when the fatal crash happened at 6.20am on the morning of 31 March 2017.

ABC.net.au reports that the motorist was travelling at almost 100 kilometres an hour and that Hall’s death would have been “almost instantaneous.”

Hall, the founder of the Transcontinental Race and one of the top riders on the ultracycling scene, had been lying in second place in the race from Fremantle to Sydney when he was killed.

The inquest was told that Hall was wearing dark clothing that did not have reflective materials and that his rear light was at the same height as roadside marker posts, making it difficult for drivers to see.

Senior Constable Adam Potts said that as a result Bobb – driving on P-plates, which drivers who have passed their test within the preceding year are required to display – said that he would not have had enough time to avoid hitting the cyclist.

However, the motorist – who initially believed he had hit a kangaroo  – admitted that he had been distracted by a truck parked in a closed petrol station immediately before hitting Hall.

He has not been charged with any offence to date in connection with Hall’s death, and counsel assisting the inquest is reportedly unlikely to recommend to the coroner that the case ne referred to prosecutors.

Counsel assisting the inquest also read extracts from the rules of the last year’s race, saying that they were "effectively silent" on issues related to safety.

It had been planned for the race to return this year, with organiser Jesse Carlsson saying last October that the second edition would have  “some pretty strict visibility restrictions in place.”

In February, however, he announced that the 2018 race would be cancelled due to the inquest and its potential outcome.

The inquest is expected to last three days.

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.