Lotto-Dstny Development rider Tijl De Decker has died following a training crash on Wednesday, aged 22.
The Belgian, winner of this year's under-23 Paris-Roubaix, collided with a car while out riding and was rushed to hospital, where he was put into an induced coma before his death.
A statement from Lotto-Dstny on Friday afternoon read: "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Tijl De Decker, following a training accident past Wednesday. The team is heartbroken by this news and sends all of its love and thoughts to Tijl’s family and loved ones in this incredibly difficult time."
The incident was confirmed in a statement shared on Wednesday evening, in which the team wrote that their “thoughts and prayers” were with the young rider.
The team then issued an update on Thursday to say that De Decker was "severely injured" and had been medically placed in a coma.
Friday's statement read: “Tijl crashed hard into the backside of a car and was brought to the hospital in Lier where he immediately underwent surgery. Later that evening he was transported to the Antwerp University Hospital.
"Despite the best efforts of the staff at the hospital, Tijl couldn’t make it through and this morning he lost his battle.
"Please, Tijl’s family has requested privacy as they mourn their loss, and we kindly ask you to respect their wishes."
“We are devastated by the loss of our cyclist,” Lotto-Dstny CEO Stéphane Heulot said in a statement on Friday. “Tijl showed big progression this year and we believed in his growth margin. Stepping up to the pro team was a logical choice.
"Unfortunately, he will never turn pro and we will always remember him as a talented young rider and a warm and friendly person off the bike. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones, and our thoughts are with them during this difficult time.”
De Decker had spent this season riding with the Belgian squad’s reserve team, and finished fourth in the under-23 road race at the National Championships on Sunday. He was scheduled to make the step up to the first team next season.
In a statement shared with Het Nieuwsblad earlier this week, a local police spokesperson confirmed an investigation is currently ongoing regarding an incident with a cyclist.
Magalie Derboven of Lier police said: “The accident took place on a public road, outside the centre. The cyclist was seriously injured and taken to hospital. It remains to be seen how his condition evolves. A traffic expert from the public prosecutor's office has arrived on site, an investigation is underway into the exact circumstances. I can confirm that a passenger car was involved in the accident.”
Born on July 29th, 2001 in Antwerp, Belgium, De Decker rode for Belgian club teams Davo CT-Tongeren Juniors and ACROG-Tormans before moving to Lotto-Dstny Development this year.
In May this year, De Decker took the biggest victory of his career, winning Paris-Roubaix Espoirs with a solo attack. His first professional win came in March at the Tour de Taiwan, where he triumphed on stage three. He was also second at the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic in April.
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