Belgium’s former cycling world champion Claude Criquielion has died in hospital at the age of 58, having suffered a severe stroke two days ago.
Criquielion won the rainbow stripes in Barcelona in 1984 and came close to winning again in his homeland in 1988, but for Canadian Steve Bauer knocking him over allowing Maurizio Fondriest to take the win.
While wearing his rainbow stripes Criquielion took the first of his two Flèche Wallone titles, with the other coming in 1989, and he also won on the Tour of Flanders cobbles in 1987.
In a career spanning 12 years, the Belgian recorded five top-10 finishes at the Tour de France, including ninth places in his first and last races in 1979 and 1991 respectively.
Fellow Belgian Eddy Merckx said of Criquielion's death: "He was a very charming person, world champion, a strong man. To disappear like that when you are only 58 is terrible.
"He leaves a wife and two children that really needed him, it's really really hard. My condolences to the family."
After his retirement, Criquielion took the position of directeur sportif at the Lotto-Adecco team between 2000 and 2004, before becoming team manager of Landbouwkrediet-Colnago in 2005.
Criquielion was admitted to hospital in Aalst, Belgium, overnight on Monday and died on Wednesday morning.
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