A 20-year-old French racer was killed after striking a vehicle going the wrong way on a road, French media reported Friday.
The French sports daily L’Equipe reported that Mathieu Riebel was killed during a crash at the Tour Air France of New Caledonia. According to reports, Riebel struck the windshield of an ambulance traveling the opposite direction of the race at nearly 80kph while chasing back to the front group on a descent. Traffic was not completely blocked on the race course, and Riebel suffered fatal injuries from the impact, L’Equipe reported. Another teammate broke his leg in the high-speed impact that shook the race organization on the French territory island in the South Pacific.
Race organizers confirmed the incident on a note posted on its Facebook page.
“Riders, teams, companions, participants in Au Tour d’Elles, journalists; everyone found out with great sadness and shock of the tragic accident that happened on the descent of the Col de la Pirogue,” the note read. “Which cost Mathieu Riebel his life, and Erwan Brenterch a serious injury, both of the Shell Pacific team.”
Organizers said Riebel was helping Brenterch to chase back to group after a mechanical on “the high-speed descent when the collision occurred.”
Organizers cancelled the stage, offered condolences to the family, and said Saturday’s final stage will be neutralized, with a group ride up the final summit to Mont Dere.