20-year-old Belgian rider Bjarne Vanacker found dead after passing away in his sleep

Cause of death unknown for promising young rider

The cause of Bjarne Vanacker's death is still to be confirmed
(Image credit: Bjarne Vanacker/Twitter)

Promising Belgian amateur rider Bjarne Vanacker has been found dead at his home in Torhout after apparently dying in his sleep last night.

The 20-year-old rider from the EFC-L&R-Vulsteke team - a development team for Trek-Segafredo - died overnight, with the cause of death yet to be confirmed and team manager Michel Pollentier saying that medical tests had never detected any underlying health conditions in Vanacker.

"Vanacker was 100 per cent destined to become a professional athlete," Pollentier told Het Nieuwsblad (opens in new tab).

"We never knew that there were any problems with his heart. Every year our riders are screened and there was never anything that came up.

Pollentier, one of the four-strong management team at EFC-L&R-Vulsteke, went on to describe the impact that Vanacker's death would have on the team, and that there would be help on offer for his team-mates.

"The death of Bjarne comes very suddenly. We will be discussing this tonight, and seeing what we can do to help his team-mates after such a heavy loss."

Despite only turning 20 in May, Vanacker, a strong all-rounder, had achieved a string of impressive results at under-23 level.

Among his best results was 10th in the U23 Paris-Roubaix in the spring and 15th in the Piccolo Giro di Lombardia at the end fo the year. His final victory came a kermesse in Nieuwpoort in June, where he led home a 1-2-3-4 for his EFC-L&R-Vulsteke team.

He also showed promise in stage races, finishing just outside the top 20 in the general classification of two prestigious U23 stage races: the Giro della Valle d'Aosta Mont Blanc and the Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux.

Vanacker's most recent race had been the under-23 edition of Paris-Tours, where he finished in 44th place.

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Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.