There were emotional scenes during the Tour de Pologne’s fourth stage as the cycling world paid tribute to Belgian rider Bjorg Lambrecht, who died following a crash in the race earlier this week.
Fellow cyclists wore black arm-bands and observed a minute’s silence at the start line on Tuesday as competitive racing was neutralized for the day.
The race fell silent again as riders stopped at the same distance that the crash occurred the day before as spectators lined the route with banners commemorating the 22-year-old.
The stage distance was also reduced by race organizers as Lambrecht’s Lotto-Soudal teammates crossed the finish line together, ahead of the peloton.
“It was a strange day, a day of mourning. Yesterday, we discussed until late about what to do today, how to mark the death of Bjorg Lambrecht,” race director Czeslaw Lang said Tuesday.
“We needed a moment of reflection, a respite, to remember.”
’Immeasurable and lasting loss’
Lambrecht crashed on the third stage of the race between Chorzów and Zabrze and was taken to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
He had been looking forward to the race and had shared his excitement in a video shortly before the event.
His parents were also said to be waiting for him at the day’s finishing line.
“I hope I have a good condition to make some good results for me and the team,” he said.
Lotto-Soudal said it had consulted trauma specialists before entering riders in the fourth stage and that participation was part of the collective mourning process.
“Every year, the world of sports is unfortunately shocked by having to say goodbye to – in an unexpected and unreal way – men and women, boys and girls, on their way to chase their dreams,” read a team statement.
“More abrupt is not possible. Again and again, there is the immeasurable and lasting loss of their child, partner, brother and sister. Again and again, the sympathy is overwhelming and heartfelt.”
It added: “All riders and staff of Lotto-Soudal would sincerely like to thank everybody for their expressions of sympathy in the usually hard (top-level sports) world.”
Lambrecht went pro in 2018 when he joined Lotto-Soudal and was considered up and coming talent in the cycling world.
The Tour de Poland is a seven day race that usually covers between 600 and 700 miles. It’s part of the men’s World Tour for cycling, which also includes the Tour de France.