Tiesj Benoot said the death of a team-mate has a serious impact on your life, after the tragic loss of Bjorg Lambrecht.
Lotto-Soudal rider Benoot won the opening stage of the Tour of Denmark in Silkeborg on Wednesday (August 21), his first day of racing since friend and compatriot Lambrecht died earlier this month.
The Belgian was one of the pallbearers at the funeral held on August 13 after Lambrecht, just 22 years old, died during the Tour of Poland stage three.
“Certainly, it’s been difficult in the weeks after the death of Bjorg. That’s why I dedicate my victory to him. And I will do that for the rest of my career I think. Burying a team-mate has a serious impact on your life.”
Lambrecht hit a cement drain pipe when crashing off to the side of the road 48km into the third stage of the Tour of Poland. The race organiser neutralised the following day’s stage.
The death impacted the team, Benoot specifically as they grew close over the years in the Belgian team Lotto-Soudal.
“We talked a lot about Bjorg in recent weeks. Of course his death has a huge impact on the team,” Benoot continued.
“I also lived fairly close to him, the closest of all colleagues and we had a close relationship, more than I had with some other colleagues.
“Bjorg was more than a team-mate, he was also a friend. It struck me hard that he died during a race, during his work – something we all do for money, and something we love at the same time.”
Benoot was fit and ready to race the Binckbank Tour but skipped it in order to be part of Lambrecht’s funeral in Knesselare, midway between Bruges and Ghent.
“I felt extra motivated to show myself today [in Denmark] . I wanted to win for him and I’m proud that I succeeded,” Benoot added.
“You never know how to respond to such a thing and how your body will react even after such an event. After the funeral I had some very tough days, but today I apparently had some extra strength to finish it.”