The motorcycle driver who collided with Antoine Demoitié in yesterday's Belgian classic Ghent-Wevelgem is not to blame for the rider's death, say team Wanty-Groupe Gobert and a journalist who witnessed the incident.
The 25-year-old Belgian died overnight after injuries he sustained in the crash and subsequent incident with the motorcycle.
"This is a tragic accident with a driver who's been in Belgian cycling races for at least 20 years," Wanty's press officer, José Been, told Het Laatste Nieuws newspaper. "He is very affected by what happened, just as we all are. This is not a case of collision at high speed such as the ones with Peter Sagan or Stig Broeckx. This is a fatal accident – the man tried to brake and fell on Antoine."
Dutch NOS journalist Sebastiaan Timmerman described the scene which occurred around 150 kilometres into the 242km race won by world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff).
"This was just a very unfortunate accident," Timmerman said. "Antoine Demoitié crashed with several other riders. An official motorcycle that rode behind them tried to avoid the group of riders, but it went wrong. He crashed and the engine landed on Antoine Demoitié.
"I know the moto rider, he is a very experienced guy. When he came into the tent where I was working, you saw right away that he was greatly upset. He came to me and asked if I had news about the rider. It was out of the blue."
"Antoine's death difficult to accept," says Team Wanty-Groupe Gobert
The incident occurred over the border in France and Demoitié was taken to the Lille hospital. Around 1am local time this morning, his death was announced.
Demoitié signed with professional continental team Wanty this year and looked ahead to race in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. He raced his first WorldTour race in the E3 Harelbeke on Friday and what turned out to be his last in Ghent-Wevelgem.
"He wanted so much a part of the WorldTour," Been added. "E3 Harelbeke was his first, and he was immediately in the escape of the day. He was so proud of himself and we were for him. He was a person with a permanent smile, he was so happy to be a cyclist. A happy man too, he was only recently married."
Been said that his family donated his organs, which have reportedly already helped three people. The team is due to race the Three Days of De Panne, "but we leave it up to the family whether they want us to take part for Antoine."
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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