Hundreds of people turned out on Tuesday in the Belgian town of Knesselare to pay tribute to the late Bjorg Lambrecht.
Lambrecht died last week after crashing on stage three of the Tour of Poland, aged just 22. During the crash he collided with a concrete culvert on the side of the road and, after being rushed to hospital, died while receiving emergency treatment.
His passing shocked the cycling world, with Lambrecht one of the most highly rated young riders in the pro peloton. This year he began to show that formidable talent, taking top-10s in De Brabantse Pijl and the Amstel Gold Race, as well as fourth at La Flèche Wallonne and winning the youth classification at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Lambrecht's funeral service took place at the Saint Willibrord church at 11am, though hundred had already gathered hours before the ceremony to pay tribute. The service was broadcast on a screen outside the church for those outside, estimated to be 500 people.
Among those in the church were many of the Lotto-Soudal riders and staff, as well as a number of former team-mates. André Greipel, Tiesj Benoot, Jelle Vanendert and Victor Campenaerts were among those who carried Lambrecht's casket into the church, while the likes of Caleb Ewan and team manager Marc Sergeant were also in attendance.
Both of Lambrecht's parents spoke during the two-and-a-half hour service, which was followed by a smaller, private cremation service.
"It will take a long time before this is processed," Marc Sergeant told Sporza outside of the church.
"If you're driving here, you know you're finally going to say goodbye to a 22-year-old talented cyclist. Bjorg was only at the beginning of his career and didn't get a second chance.
"This is a big loss. It will take a very long time before we have processed it. Anyway Bjorg continues to be with us in the team forever.
"Bjorg was very talented and lovable. He had a good laugh and had no opponents. Everyone was his friend."
The Belgian cycling federation president, Tom Van Damme also paid his respects to Lambrecht, and said it was another tragic loss after the fatalities of other young Belgian riders in recent years. Antoine Demoitié, Daan Myngheer, Bjarne Vanacker, Jimmy Duquennoy, Michael Goolaerts and Stef Loos are among the riders that have died since 2016.
"My thoughts are mainly with the family and the parents who have lost their son," Van Damme said.
"We are also losing a lot of cycling talent. In Belgium we have recently lost several riders. But fate has really struck Bjorg. If he had fallen a meter further, we would not have been here..."
Riders and organisations paid tribute again to Lambrecht on Tuesday across social media.
The fourth stage of the Tour of Poland last week was neutralised in honour of Lambrecht, with silences held at football matches in Belgium over the weekend, the European Championships men's road race on Sunday, and at the start of the BinckBank Tour on Monday.
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