By wire-service reports
World Madison champion Isaac Galvez (Caisse d’Epargne) died after an overnight fall during the Ghent six-day, the Belga news agency reported Sunday.
Galvez, who has been a professional since 2000, died while being transported to a local hospital.
An initial diagnosis suggests the cause of death was from an internal hemorrhage, however complete details will not be available until a full autopsy is completed on Sunday. After viewing video pictures organizers of the famous track event said the 31-year-old appeared to have hit a railing with his chin and chest after crashing when he came into contact with Belgian Dimitri De Fauw. Galvez’s helmet proved useless as protection. Belga reported that several of Galvez’s ribs had been fractured and had collapsed onto his heart.
Ghent Six organizer Rob Discart told VRT radio that the reigning Madison world champion crashed into Belgian Dimitri De Fauw early Sunday morning and then hit the railings at the edge of the track.
Galvez was unconscious when medical staff reached him, but they were able to resuscitate him.
“Unfortunately,” said Discart, “those injuries were so serious he died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.”
Event director Patrick Sercu said the accident was of the sort that occurred often in cycling.
“It was the kind of crash that could happen any time in track cycling; two riders come into contact riding next to each other,” Sercu said, “but this time it was fatal.”
Alejandro Blanco, president of the Spanish Olympic Committee, lauded Galvez as an athlete “who represented Spain, who always fought for himself and his country.”
“And then he has this accident. There aren’t words to describe this tragedy,” he added.
Cycling legend Eddy Merckx said he was shocked by the fatality.
“I was at the event on Wednesday and spoke to Isaac briefly,” Merckx said. “To hear that he is now dead is hard to accept. A rider can crash ten times and have nothing happen to him. This time, fate decided otherwise. This must be hard for his family and those close to him.”
Galvez was one of a rare breed of cyclists who managed to succeed on boththe road and the track.
Since becoming professional in 2000 he had 12 road victories and two worldtrack cycling crowns, having won the Madison in 1999 and earlier this year atthe world championships in Bordeaux.
Staff and riders on Galvez’s Caisse d’Epargne squad were stunned.
“Life is hard,” team manager Eusebio Unzu said. “His teammate JuanLlaneras (who witnessed the accident) is destroyed. I’m going tonight to Brussels where the autopsy will be held.”
Sporting director Alfonso Galilea added: “No one can remember anything like this. What matters is the loss.”
Teammate Oscar Pereiro, who finished second in this year’s Tour de France said losing Galvez was especially tragic.
“He was young and had so much to live for,” Pereiro said. “My thoughts go out to his family. It can happen to any of us. The risk of accident is always there in cycling.”
The final day of the Ghent Six has been canceled out of respect for Galvez and his family.
Agence France Presse and The Associated Press contributed to this report.