Organizers of the Tour of Poland neutralized Tuesday’s scheduled fourth stage following the death of Belgian rider Bjorg Lambrecht.
“Out of respect for Bjorg, the organizers with the officials and the teams have decided that the fourth stage of the Tour of Poland will be cancelled,” said a statement on the Tour website.
Tuesday’s stage route has been reduced to 133.7 km and the final laps have been reduced to one in agreement with Lotto-Soudal, according to a note on the race website.
It’s not exactly clear about what happened in Monday’s tragic crash that claimed the life of the second-year Belgian pro. According to some reports, the 22-year-old died after colliding with a concrete structure in Monday’s third stage on Monday on a relatively flat section of road. He was resuscitated on the spot, then taken in a critical condition to a hospital in the southern city of Rybnik, where he died on the operating table.
“It wasn’t a high-speed descent. It was a straight and wide road,” race director Czeslaw Lang told BBC. “He had a moment of hesitation, he left the asphalt and the tragedy occurred. The injuries were so serious that we called for a helicopter and an ambulance. [Lambrecht] was transported to hospital. His heart started beating again but he sadly died during the operation.”
A promising climber, Lambrecht was hailed as one of the top GC prospects to come out of Belgian cycling in decades. Lambrecht won the Under 23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege and finished second in the Tour de l’Avenir in 2017 behind this year’s Tour de France winner Egan Bernal before turning professional last year with Lotto Soudal.
This year he placed 12th at the Criterium du Dauphine, winning the best young rider category, fourth in La Fleche Wallonne and sixth at the Amstel Gold.
“We are all incredibly shaken by this tragedy,” Lang said. “Words fail to describe the emotions that we’re all feeling. I share the pain with Bjorg’s family, his team and all members of the cycling community. At the same time I reiterate our full support. Bjorg Lambrecht will forever remain in our memories as an exceptional cyclist and a great man”
Lambrecht’s death brought a flurry of tributes across social media from all corners of the cycling world.
“Such an incredibly sad day here in Poland and across the cycling world,” tweeted Mark Cavendish who finished sixth in Monday’s stage.
“To the family, friends and teammates of @bjorg_lambrecht, all our thoughts and sympathies are with you. Rest In Peace Bjorg. May your star continue to shine as brightly as it did in cycling.”
Alejandro Valverde, the reigning world road race champion, echoed Cavendish’s comments.
“Deeply sorry for the loss of Bjorg Lambrecht, a cyclist who had demonstrated a lot in a few years,” the Spaniard tweeted.
— AFP contributed to this report