World champion Peter Sagan leads tributes to Antoine Demoitie

Belgian rider dies in hospital after Gent-Wevelgem crash

World champion Peter Sagan has led the tributes to Antoine Demoitie after the Belgian died in hospital after being hit by a motorbike at Gent-Wevelgem.

The Wanty-Groupe Gobert rider was one of several riders involved in a crash, and the 25-year-old was then hit by the motorbike, with an inquiry underway into the circumstances of the incident.

Demoitie was taken to hospital in Lille, where his team confirmed his wife and family were with him in intensive care, but he later died.

Antoine Demoitie of Wanty-Groupe Gobert died after being hit by a motorbike at Gent-Wevelgem (Pic: Sirotti)

Sagan, who went on to win Gent-Wevelgem, his first win since becoming world champion, took to his Facebook page to pay express his condolences.

“Yesterday should have been one of my happiest days as professional rider: I scored my first victory wearing the UCI World Champion jersey at Gent-Wevelgem,” he wrote.

“However, my initial joy was short-lived when I heard about the incident that involved young Belgian rider Antoine Demoitié at the same race. Apparently, Antoine crashed and was then, reportedly, ran over by a following motorbike.

“The news of his death saddened me and I would like to express my deepest condolences to his wife, family, friends and team.

“While we have to wait for the official investigation to clarify the exact circumstances of the incident, I think this is a tragic reminder to all involved in the sport of cycling that the safety of the riders must be their absolute priority.”

Demoitie’s team have pulled out of their forthcoming races, the Three Days of De Panne, Route Adelie and Paris-Camembert, but have vowed to return for the Tour of Flanders.

The Professional Cyclists Association (CPA), meanwhile, issued a statement reiterating their desire for improved safety in cycling.

President Gianni Bugno said: “At this time of sadness and sorrow for the death of Antoine we do not want to make controversy.

“I do not want to accuse anyone but make everyone reflect on the responsibility we have to ensure that it is always maintained a very high level of attention, awareness, and control over safety standards during each race.”

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