Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Belgian cyclist Goolaerts dies in ‘Hell of the North’ race



Belgian cyclist Goolaerts dies in ‘Hell of the North’ race

Michael Goolaerts of the Veranda's Willems cycling team receives first aid after a crash during the 116th edition of the Paris-Roubaix one-day classic between Compiegne and Roubaix near Viesly in northern France on Sunday. AFP
Michael Goolaerts of the Veranda's Willems cycling team receives first aid after a crash during the 116th edition of the Paris-Roubaix one-day classic between Compiegne and Roubaix near Viesly in northern France on Sunday. AFP

Belgian cyclist Goolaerts dies in ‘Hell of the North’ race

Belgian cyclist Michael Goolaerts died in hospital on Sunday at the age of 23, hours after suffering heart failure during the gruelling Paris-Roubaix one-day classic race in France.

“It is with unimaginable sadness that we have to communicate the passing of our rider and friend Michael Goolaerts,” the rider’s Veranda’s Willems team said in a statement on Twitter.

They revealed he died late on Sunday in a hospital in the northern French city of Lille, surrounded by his family.

“He died of cardiac arrest. All medical assistance was to no avail,” the team said.

The Belgian – competing in the one-day classic for the first time – had been airlifted to hospital after being found unconscious and not breathing by race doctors at the side of the road on one of the race’s famed cobbled sectors, about 100 kilometres into the 257km course.

Television images showed Goolaerts on the ground, his arms crossed, with no other rider beside him.

“For now there will be no further communication as we want to give his close ones time to deal with this terrible loss,” added Veranda’s Willems in their statement.

The race is known as the “Hell of the North” because a large part of the course is made up of cobbles and the riders have to contend with muddy conditions.

Sagan win overshadowed

Goolaerts became a professional rider in 2014 aged just 20, and had taken part in 20 days of racing in 2018, including starting the Tour of Flanders last week, although he did not finish that race.

David Lappartient, president of the sport’s governing body the UCI, said on Twitter: “On behalf of the Union Cycliste Internationale and the cycling family as a whole, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family, team and friends of Michael Goolaerts, who left us too early today. We share their immense sadness.”

Just two years ago, another young Belgian rider, 22-year-old Daan Myngheer, died in hospital two days after suffering a heart attack on the Criterium International in Corsica.

In 2011, Belgium’s Wouter Weylandt died in a crash during the third stage of the Giro d’Italia.

Sunday’s tragedy completely overshadowed the race itself, won by Slovakia’s three-time world champion Peter Sagan.

Sagan outsprinted Swiss champion Silvan Dillier, the last survivor from an earlier break, in the iconic outdoor velodrome in Roubaix after 5hrs 54mins 06sec in the saddle, to win the race.

Sagan paid tribute to Goolaerts’ on Twitter, writing: “All the thoughts and prayers of the @BORAhansgrohe team and myself are with Michael Goolaerts. Such a sad news...”

Last week’s Tour of Flanders winner, Niki Terpstra, was third at 57sec and 2017 champion Greg Van Avermaet fourth at 1:34.

Belgian cyclist Michael Goolaerts died in hospital on Sunday at the age of 23, hours after suffering heart failure during the gruelling Paris-Roubaix one-day classic race in France. AFP
Belgian cyclist Michael Goolaerts died in hospital on Sunday at the age of 23, hours after suffering heart failure during the gruelling Paris-Roubaix one-day classic race in France. AFP

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and