Press officer calls incident a "tragic accident" after 25-year-old cyclist killed at Ghent-Wevelgem on Sunday

The motorcycle driver who collided with Antoine Demoitié in yesterday’s Belgian classic Ghent-Wevelgem is not to blame for the rider’s death, say team Wanty-Groupe Gobert and a journalist who witnessed the incident.

The 25-year-old Belgian died overnight after injuries he sustained in the crash and subsequent incident with the motorcycle.

“This is a tragic accident with a driver who’s been in Belgian cycling races for at least 20 years,” Wanty’s press officer, José Been, told Het Laatste Nieuws newspaper. “He is very affected by what happened, just as we all are. This is not a case of collision at high speed such as the ones with Peter Sagan or Stig Broeckx. This is a fatal accident – the man tried to brake and fell on Antoine.”

Dutch NOS journalist Sebastiaan Timmerman described the scene which occurred around 150 kilometres into the 242km race won by world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff).

“This was just a very unfortunate accident,” Timmerman said. “Antoine Demoitié crashed with several other riders. An official motorcycle that rode behind them tried to avoid the group of riders, but it went wrong. He crashed and the engine landed on Antoine Demoitié.

“I know the moto rider, he is a very experienced guy. When he came into the tent where I was working, you saw right away that he was greatly upset. He came to me and asked if I had news about the rider. It was out of the blue.”

“Antoine’s death difficult to accept,” says Team Wanty-Groupe Gobert

The incident occurred over the border in France and Demoitié was taken to the Lille hospital. Around 1am local time this morning, his death was announced.

Demoitié signed with professional continental team Wanty this year and looked ahead to race in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. He raced his first WorldTour race in the E3 Harelbeke on Friday and what turned out to be his last in Ghent-Wevelgem.

“He wanted so much a part of the WorldTour,” Been added. “E3 Harelbeke was his first, and he was immediately in the escape of the day. He was so proud of himself and we were for him. He was a person with a permanent smile, he was so happy to be a cyclist. A happy man too, he was only recently married.”

More on this story

Been said that his family donated his organs, which have reportedly already helped three people. The team is due to race the Three Days of De Panne, “but we leave it up to the family whether they want us to take part for Antoine.”

  • Gary Burns

    Thanks Dave

  • David Bassett

    It is good that you have the B—- to put this comment in as I said before I don’t want to get into a bun fight with people who have ridden a sportive or a 4th cat road race and seem to think the know the answers. One thing they don’t seem to grasp, and it is nothing to do with this very sad accident half the time the riders do not take any notice of the horns blowing. No racing cyclists no race but equally as you put take all the vehicles out and see how long it tales for the money to dry up, and then no racing at any level up from fish and chippers. Gary Burns I solute you and all the other that support this marvellous sport of ours.

  • Gary Burns

    Hello, I would like to answer a couple of points you raise. I am not nor never would be a pro rider, but I have ridden and still race myself, for the last 30 years, so do understand the peleton, this I agree is not always so with moto pilots.

    The road does indeed belong to riders, but in this day and age with traffic levels and road layouts we are necessary. Excluding specific roles such as blackboard and moto comm, the two main roles of the motos are Junction control and safety bikes. Junction teams work in front of the race and stop and hold traffic either on coming to the race or exiting side junctions or other access points. These you will only ever see if you are stood at the road side watching the whole peleton. The bikes that have to pass the riders regularly are the safety bikes, whose job is stand and flag&whistle any hazards to the peleton, such as parked vehicles and road furniture etc. as you are no doubt aware only the front few riders in the peleton can ever see an approaching hazard. Once we have warned the bunch we then have to remount and pass the peleton to arrive at the next hazard. It is always preferable to pass the bunch cleanly, them on one side of the road us on the other, but this is not always possible. The bunch is a like a living organism, it may be all on the left of the road and you pass on the right, but then for whatever reason will switch sides, and at this point this is where you will find yourself within the bunch.
    I agree with you impatience has no part in the decision of how you proceed, from this point you have to decide do I proceed with the pass, do I hold my position-this is what I mean about mingling with peleton, but their experience of us allows them to treat us as another member of the bunch, or do I carefully slide back through the riders to get out of the back of the bunch. So as you can see I dont usually just appear at random, also we use our horns to warn riders of our intentions-short sounds which they are accustomed to to let them know we are there and are moving forward, if I am holding position or moving back this is not usually required. All of this is done while maintaining a position as far left or right as possible with regard to which side I was passing, but again this has to take into account road surface and edging.

    These are decisions that have to made quickly, but with safety always as the major concern. But also I have to consider if I don’t get past the peleton to flag my next hazard could this also cause a crash or injuries. There are a finite number of us, it would be nice if we had enough marshals available to flag every hazard without having to move but this is not going to happen. Most events struggle to get the necessary marshals to cover all the static hazards, let alone the changing ones which is often are priority.

    Also on major races it is often not our decision when to move forward from the rear of the peleton, but controlled by the moto regulator, if you watch major races often you will see them one just in front of the bunch and the other just behind, in red jackets on the back of motos. They absolute control over who moves forward and who doesn’t and when.

    You are right about motos and low speeds, but equally I have been a motorcyclist for over 40 years, and hold numerous advanced riding qualifications, I even teach advanced instructors. I would expect to be able to control my bike at low speeds, with the use of correct gears to allow me to have maximum control. A moto is heavy, but looking back this is the first incident I can recall, where a moto has fallen on a rider, collisions with or glancing blows are normal. But equally there have been collisions with team cars, service vehicles and commisaires over the years. I would say without a shadow of a doubt the worst and wildest drivers within a race are team cars, and many of these are ex-riders, who would be expected to understand things better, but they see their rider needs help and that is all they are concerned about.

    So hopefully this puts our side of situation. Media bikes are another thing altogether, their priorities differ, they have their job to do, whether this is right is a completely different argument. But no press coverage, no public, no sponsors and no races. Numbers are something I would agree that needs looking at, but that will only come from the top

  • David Bassett

    I am ashamed by your comments. It is one of the worst days in racing history. I did not and don’t want to see the crash, and as it happened before TV came live, I doubt you saw it as well. I might be wrong.
    Yes something has to be done. When the UCI sit down to sort this out, EVERYONE has to be under the microscope riders moto’s team cars. Every one has a responsibility to make races safer. I for one don’t want to get into this slanging match attached to this report, I have too much respect for the family and friends of Antoine Demoitié It is not the time or place. It needs to be sorted but not on this article.

  • poisonjunction

    You may well be an ‘experienced moto driver’, but if you think that experience also qualifies you to understand experienced professional cyclist’s think again?
    The ‘JOB’ you motos do not understand is ‘the road’ belongs to the cyclists, you are there to safeguard them not interfere.

    Impatience seems to be moto drivers problem – WAIT – until it IS safe to pass, riders have PRIORITY, not motos!
    You admit, but certainly have no business or authority to ‘mingle’ with the peloton, your presence there is unacceptable. Riders have NO option when you ‘appear’, and you ARE seriously affecting the race result as you ‘disentangle’ yourself, ‘interfering’ with riders and trying to get out of a position where an ‘experienced moto driver’ would not have been, in the first place!

    Motos at low speed, particularly two-up, are far to difficult to control wirh low acceleration and balance problems – having a 2 – 3 cwt ‘engine’ + driver ‘dropping’ on a fallen rider is unacceptable – keep right away from the riders!

  • Gary Burns

    shorthand for a motorcycle rider working on a race, performing one of a number of roles such as, route control, safety, commissaire, blackboard and media pilots.

  • Gary Burns

    The problem with this, as an experienced moto, is that once you are in the peleton, as is necessary to pass through, or to carry out a role such as blackboard or moto commassaire, you are effectively another rider in the peleton. This is how you are treated by the pro bunch, who respect that you have a job to do as well as them. And if they can’t stop and collide with each other a moto has no more chance than they have. As one very experienced team manager said to me last year, the riders are more than capable of colliding with each other without our help, so occasional incidents with motos are going to happen. This does not take anything away from the tragedy this weekend, and I send all my thoughts to Antoines family, team and friends, it is just another point of view.

  • Péter Kandzsarov

    What is a bike.

  • Rob King

    The motos and support vehicles should be driving in such a manner that they can always stop in the event a rider goes down.

  • Peter

    I think the press officer of Wanty-Groupe Gobert and the journalist who
    witnessed it are mistaken because the former editor of Bicycling Peter
    Flax has tweeted a foreshortened photograph of an unrelated moment in
    the race stating:
    “The incident at G-W was not an “accident”

    It was a preventable crash caused by multiple levels of human error”

  • Juraj Zamek

    Chudák kluk ! Něco nepochopitelné ! ! Vyvodit důsledky ! Pánové ….

  • J Evans

    Excellent article on cyclingtips, urging people to complain
    to the UCI.

    I have done so – just send a quick e mail.

  • Mike kizaberg

    Very sad tragic way to go man =(

  • BrianJonesG8ASO

    What is a “MOTO”?

  • gjh

    Thanks for correcting but still one more to do.

  • gjh

    RIP Antoine Demoitié. It’s José Been by the way.