By Julien Pretot
ROUBAIX/LILLE, France (Reuters) – The death of Belgian rider Michael Goolaerts following a crash at the Paris-Roubaix one-day race overshadowed the event on Sunday.
Television footage showed the 23-year-old receiving CPR treatment from medics by the side of the road after he crashed in the second cobbled sector of the 257-km race.
He was subsequently taken to Lille university hospital but failed to recover.
“It is with unimaginable sadness that we have to communicate the passing of our rider and friend Michael Goolaerts. He passed away Sunday evening at 22.40 in Lille hospital,” his team Veranda’s Willems-Crelan said in a statement.
“He died of cardiac arrest, all medical assistance was to no avail.”
Goolaerts is the third Belgian rider to die in recent years during a race. Antoine Demoitie passed away following a crash with a motorbike during the Gent–Wevelgem road classic in 2016.
In 2011 Wouter Weylandt died after crashing during the Giro d’Italia.
On Sunday, the Paris-Roubaix race went on without Goolaerts and world champion Peter Sagan became the first rider since 1981 to claim the Queen of the Classics with the rainbow jersey on his shoulders.
The Slovakian accelerated 55 km from the finish line at the Roubaix Velodrome to catch the day’s breakaway riders and get rid of the strongest of them, Swiss Silvan Dillier, in a sprint finish.
Tour of Flanders champion Niki Terpstra, of the Netherlands, came home third in the 257km race, 54.5km of them being the famed cobbled sectors in northern France.
Terpstra and his Quick Step-Floors team, who had been dominant on the Flanders classics so far, simply could not contain the Bora-Hansgrohe leader Sagan.
Once the man who won the last three editions of the road cycling world championships jumped away from the group of main favorites with 55km left, he never looked back.
Sagan demonstrated great sang-froid in a nail-biting finish at the end of the ‘Hell of the North’ to add to his 2016 Tour of Flanders title.
Paris-Roubaix is one of the five Monument classics with Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Lombardy.
“I’m so tired after this race,” Sagan, the first rider since Frenchman Bernard Hinault to win here as a world champion, said.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ian Chadband and Pritha Sarkar)