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.
“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.”
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.”
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.
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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.
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