Ag2r La Mondiale sports director Julien Jurdie describes the scene where Antoine Demoitié was struck by a motorbike after crashing

Ag2r La Mondiale directeur sportif Julien Jurdie said he feared the worst after witnessing the incident that cost Wanty-Groupe Gobert’s Antoine Demoitié his life on Sunday.

The French coach was in the team car behind the peloton when Demoitié crashed along with Jonas Ahlstrand (Cofidis) and Mattia Cattaneo (Lampre-Merida).

“We were three cars behind the group. It wasn’t a particularly nervous point in the race and we were spread out on the road,” he told l”Equipe.

“We didn’t stop but we immediately saw the panic on the faces of the people there. We checked one of our riders wasn’t involved and continued in the race. The ambulance was just behind us but we knew it was a dramatic situation.”

>>> Marcel Kittel calls for better race safety after Antoine Demoitié death

The group that crashed were travelling at around 70kph and then hit by an official motorbike immediately after crashing, according to Jurdie. While Ahlstrand and Cattaneo got up after the crash, Demoitié’s condition was immediately more serious.

While Jurdie recalled that another Wanty-Groupe Gobert rider was involved in the crash, the Belgian team have confirmed that this was not the case.

“I saw the guys fall, as if they’d lost their balance, they were just in front of us and went down on the left of the road. I immediately heard race radio shout: ‘Crash! Crash!’ But in the space of a second I saw a motorbike hit the riders. The motorbike pilot didn’t have time to brake. It was a race official motorbike. They’re there to control the race.

“Everything slowed down and I suspected that it wasn’t an ordinary accident. With Marc Accard my mechanic, we looked at what had happened in fear. We’d seen the Cofidis rider Jonas Ahlstrand get up after the crash, plus a Lampre rider I didn’t know plus two Wanty riders: Antoine Demoitié and another. I immediately noticed that the Belgian rider was in a fetal position, it was terrible.

“When you see a crash you always hope that the guys are okay but this time you could see it was serious. I would have loved not to witness it.”

>>> Antoine Demoitié’s team shell-shocked but defiant on cycling’s day of tragedy

The news of Demoitié’s death was delivered late on Sunday evening and the shock had barely abated by the time the death of Roubaix Lille Metropole’s Daan Myngheer was announced.

The Belgian passed away in Ajaccio after suffering a heart attack on stage one of the Critierium International on Saturday.

  • vtchuck

    At 70KPH the riders were racing, a motorcycle would probably have a stopping distance of 30+ meters, assuming instantaneous reaction. I don’t believe all the motorcycles and cars can be kept such large distance away from the riders while still doing their jobs effectively.

  • Christian Kennaugh

    Why is it always some of the heaviest motorcycles available that are used? BMW 1200 RTs, Honda Pan European etc. With riders and equipment, the all up weight is most likely approaching half a ton. Even the Yamaha xp500 scooter is 200kg + riders.

    Perhaps a weight limit could be enforced as it is in the peloton, and far lighter motorbikes/scooters would have to be used instead.

    As an example, a 125 Motocross bike weighs about 80kg and is plenty powerful enough for the job. The long travel suspension would likely make a run-over less serious too.

  • poisonjunction

    I think the comment ‘the motor bike pilot[a race official] didn’t have time to brake’, sums up the problem!

    ‘Experienced’ motos riding to close to the riders. The over-confident driver/ pilot [a Race Official – “been doing this for years”} , disobeys rules, drives too close to the riders, doesn’t leave a braking distance so ‘hasn’t time to brake’ – WHY because their usual solution is to use speed to get out of trouble, instead, reportedly the whole contraption fell on the injured cyclist.

    We await the verdict on this Race Offical? . . . . . . . Will his motor insurance cough up for the deceased family if injuries inflicted by the moto are found to have contributed to a loss of life?