Lotto-Soudal have reflected on the ‘immeasurable loss’ of Bjorg Lambrecht.
Lambrecht, an emerging Belgian talent who had already achieved stand-out results, died after a crash 50km into stage three of the Tour of Poland.
The 22-year-old’s death has left the cycling community stunned, including Lotto-Soudal, where Lambrecht had honed his skills with the under-23 team before moving up to the WorldTour squad last year.
Belgian team Lotto released a tribute to Lambrecht on Tuesday (August 6), the day after his death, as the team rolled through a neutralised stage four of the Tour of Poland in his memory.
The team said: “There was new talent. Young, fresh and hopeful riders are very often part of the development team of Kurt Van de Wouwer and, by extension, the entire Belgian under-23 pool. That talent is skilfully further moulded and the riders with just that little extra immediately make the step to the WorldTour, preferably to Lotto-Soudal.
“During the 2016 cycling season, as a first year U23, everybody was talking about Bjorg, within and also outside the peloton. Words like ‘pocket climber’, ‘rough diamond’, ‘puncher’, ‘Grand Tour hope’ were used.
“With playful determination, he integrated into the world of professional cycling. Team-mates and staff appreciated his work ethic and humility, opponents discovered his talent, and the media appreciated his nuanced but clear story.”
The team said that Lambrecht had got on well with German sprinter André Greipel, who left Lotto last season, and domestique Sander Armée, also sharing a room with older rider Lars Bak and youngster Harm Vanhoucke.
Lambrecht was also friends with Tour de France winner Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) and Katusha-Alpecine’s Steff Cras, as all three joined the WorldTour at the same time.
Lotto Soudal added: “Every year, the world of sports is unfortunately shocked by having to say goodbye to – in an unexpected and unreal way – men and women, boys and girls, on their way to chase their dreams.
“Again and again, there is the immeasurable and lasting loss of their child, partner, brother and sister. Again and again, the sympathy is overwhelming and heartfelt. And every time, a little later, life around them goes on, except for the mother and father, brother and sister, partner and children.
“All riders and staff of Lotto-Soudal would sincerely like to thank everybody for their expressions of sympathy in the usually hard top-level sports world. But in the first place, our thoughts go out to the parents, family and friends of Bjorg, who have to endure the greatest burden, a life without Bjorg.”