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Team pays tribute to cyclist who died in Gent-Wevelgem race


GENT, Belgium (AP) The Wanty-Gobert team has paid tribute to cyclist Antoine Demoitie who died after an accident during Sunday’s stage of the Genk-Wevelgem classic.

The team confirmed the death early Monday, posting a black-and-white photograph of the 25-year-old Belgian cyclist with the text “Antoine Demoitie 1990-2016" on its official Twitter and Facebook pages.

Demoitie was among several competitors involved in a fall in the one-day race - won by world champion Peter Sagan - and local media reported he was struck by a motorbike.

The team said Demoitie was taken to the intensive care unit of a hospital in the northern French city of Lille and his wife and family had joined him there.

“Antoine joined Wanty-Groupe Gobert this season and wanted to ride WorldTour races,” said team manager Jean-Francois Bourlart. “Last Friday, he rode his first WorldTour race (the) E3 Harelbeke. He was part of the day’s breakaway and climbed the Taaienberg with the best. He was very proud of himself and we couldn’t have been more proud of him.”

Bourlart added: “On Sunday, the incredible happened, the inconceivable. We can’t believe it.”

The team has withdrawn from the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde race on Tuesday as well as the Route Adelie and Paris-Camembert.

Gianni Bugno, the president of the Professional Cyclists Association, called for lessons to be learned from the “terrible accident,” saying “I do not want to accuse anyone but (I want to) make everyone reflect on the responsibility we have to ensure that a very high level of attention, awareness and control over safety standards during each race is maintained.”