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- Bjorg Lambrecht, a 22-year-old WorldTour pro, died after a race crash on Monday.
- The Belgian rider reportedly struck a concrete culvert midway through Stage 3 at the Tour of Poland. He later died at the hospital.
- Lambrecht had joined Lotto–Soudal last year after proving himself as one of cycling’s most exciting young talents.
Bjorg Lambrecht, one of the most promising young riders in the pro peloton, has died after a crash at the Tour of Poland.
The 22-year-old Belgian was about halfway through Monday’s Stage 3 when he reportedly lost control and slammed into a concrete culvert. No other riders were involved in the crash. Paramedics rushed Lambrecht to the hospital, but according to doctors he died “on the operating table” during emergency surgery.
Lambrecht’s Lotto–Soudal team announced his death on Twitter:
Race director Czeslaw Lang confirmed the death in a short speech in place of podium celebrations after the stage ended. Though organizers plan to continue the Tour, they cancelled Stage 4 ahead of the competition on Tuesday, reducing it to a 133.7K processional ride out of respect to Lambrecht.
“Today, the result of the race doesn’t matter,” Stage 3 winner Pascal Ackermann told The Sun, a British tabloid, on Monday. “I was devastated to hear today’s tragic news and I would like to personally send my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Bjorg Lambrecht and everyone at Lotto–Soudal.”
Though the course on Stage 3 had seen some heavy rain prior to the start, with slick roads causing a few minor crashes later in the day, the severity of Lambrecht’s collision perplexed race officials.
“It wasn’t a high-speed descent. It was a straight and wide road,” Lang told the BBC. “He had a moment of hesitation, he left the asphalt, and the tragedy occurred.”
It’s not entirely clear what caused Lambrecht to veer off the road about 60 miles into the stage’s relatively flat 93-mile loop.
“We don’t know why he fell,” race doctor Ryszard Wisniewski told reporters. “It was on a totally flat road.”
Medical staff managed to resuscitate Lambrecht at the scene, but he remained in critical condition. “We tried to give a heart massage just afterward,” Wisniewski said. “Then we called for a helicopter, but his condition was so serious it wasn’t able to transport him.”
An ambulance eventually took Lambrecht to a hospital in Rybnik, a city about 20 miles away from the stage’s start and finishing towns. He was taken into surgery, but succumbed to his injuries during the procedure.
“His heart started beating again, but he sadly died during the operation,” Lang said.
Lambrecht had been one of cycling’s most exciting young upstarts, racking up an impressive slate of wins in only two years. While racing at the amateur level, he won the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège in spring 2017 and placed second in the Tour de l’Avenir that August, behind recent Tour de France winner Egan Bernal.
The following year he turned pro, signing with Lotto–Soudal and winning the U23 silver medal at the UCI Road World Championships. Earlier this season he was called up to race with the elite squad and finished in 12th place at the Critérium du Dauphiné, where won the Best Young Rider classification, in June. He then took a short break from racing to rest up for a good performance in Poland.
Upon news of his death, many of cycling’s biggest teams and riders offered their condolences. They mourned someone who had proven himself as a top racer, as well as a kind and affectionate colleague, at such a young age.
“Bjorg, do you remember two weeks ago?” Campenaerts wrote. “I had all the trouble in the world to follow the pace of the group during training. It was physically and mentally difficult for me. You turned around and came back to me. You said, ‘We’ll do this together!’ It was a pleasure to be your teammate for two years. I cherish all beautiful moments! It goes well with you Bjorg!”