Belgian team return to racing after consulting with riders and Goolaerts' family

The Veranda’s Willems-Crelan team have announced that they will take to the start line at De Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday just three days after the death of Michael Goolaerts following a cardiac arrest at Paris-Roubaix.

The team announced on Twitter that they would be taking part in the race, having taken the decision after consulting with Goolaerts’ family and the team’s riders.

“After careful consultation with the family of Michael and our riders, we decided that we will be at the start of De Brabantse Pijl this Wednesday 11/4. We will ride #BP18 with Michael in our hearts.”

The team’s line-up will consist of Sean De Bie, Dries De Bondt, Mathias De Witte, Huub Duijn, Arjen Livyns, Elias Van Breussegem, and Zico Waeytens. However all riders and staff of the team will come together on Tuesday to remember Goolaerts, with riders not involved in De Brabantse Pijl attending the race to support those on the start line.

De Brabantse Pijl will be the team’s first event since the death of 23-year-old on Sunday evening after he was airlifted to hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest while competing in Paris-Roubaix.

The incident shook the cycling world, with tributes from fellow riders, teams, and other figures in the sport coming in throughout Monday.

>>> Cycling world pays tribute to Michael Goolaerts

Peter Sagan, who took victory in Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, was among those to pay tribute to Goolaerts, saying that “All the thoughts and prayers of the Bora-Hansgrohe team and myself are with Michael Goolaerts.”

Goolaerts’ fellow Belgian and Veranda’s Willems-Crelan team-mate Wout van Aert who had also raced against Goolaerts through the junior ranks also posted a photo of the 23-year-old with the caption “I cannot yet grasp this. Your eternal smile will always remain an inspiration to me”.

Van Aert also posted an emotional tribute to Goolaerts on his personal website, describing his as a “mischievous guy who was always smiling who will always be an inspiration.”