Kirt Vermeerbergen/Acrog-Pauwels Sauzen-Balen
- Cyclist Stefan Loos was killed in a car-bike crash during a race on Sunday, the second young pro killed while riding in a week.
- Loos was among a group of racers that went the wrong way during the Alfred Gadenne Grand Prix in Belgium.
- A van driver struck Loos, 19, at an unprotected intersection.
A young cyclist was killed on Sunday after he mistakenly went off course during a road race in Belgium.
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Stef Loos, 19, was among a group of about 30 riders in the Alfred Gadenne Grand Prix that made a wrong turn about 25K (15.5 miles) into the race. About a mile after that, at an unprotected intersection off course, a van delivery driver struck three riders from the group, including Loos.
While the two other riders had serious injuries—one needed surgery for several fractures in his thigh and collarbone—Loos suffered brain and internal organ damage and was taken to a local hospital, where he later died.
“Very tragic news,” Jef Roberts, chairman of Loos’s Acrog-Pauwels Sauzen-Balen team, told reporters. “Stef had been with us for years and was very popular.”
Remco Evenepoel, a fellow Belgian with the Deceuninck–Quick-Step team, said, “Rest in peace, my friend. Sometimes terrible things just happen to the wrong people.”
It’s not entirely clear what sent the riders off course. Roberts initially told the press that a race official had sent the group in the wrong direction, having them ride straight instead of turn right as they were supposed to do. However, Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws quoted race director Gérard Verbrugghe saying that no official had been stationed at the junction where the mix-up occurred.
Jonas Bresseleers, Loos’s teammate who was also struck in the crash, reportedly told Belgian radio that he couldn’t remember if he saw a race official or not. The other crash victim, U23 Lotto Soudal rider Ruben Apers, required surgery for his fractures, but his team confirmed that he was in stable condition.
Investigators are now looking into the circumstances of the crash and whether a marshal was, or should have been, placed at the intersection, Het Laatste Nieuws reported. “There were arrows pointing in the right direction, but maybe that wasn’t enough,” a representative from the local prosecutor’s office told the paper.
This is the second time within a week that a promising young cyclist was killed on a road race course. Tate Meintjes, also 19, was killed on March 12 when a driver cut him off during a pre-ride of the Redlands Bicycle Classic in California.