By Brecht Decaluwé
Around two thousand people were at the funeral of Isaac Gálvez Lopez on Tuesday afternoon. The Spanish sprinter and track racer died after crashing during the penultimate night of the Ghent Six Day. Gálvez was interred in his place of birth, Vilanova i la Geltrú.
Juan Llaneras, Gálvez's race partner in Ghent, did all he could to fulfill the necessary administrative obligations in Belgium. He was later joined by sister Débora Gálvez and some other relatives. On Monday night Isaac Gálvez Lopez was repatriated by plane from Brussels airport to Barcelona. From Barcelona, Gálvez was brought over to Vilanova i la Geltrú, where he was born 31 years ago.
The local sports hall was turned into a big chapel were people could pay a last visit to Gálvez from 11AM on. Five hours later, a short funeral ceremony was held in presence of many local people who paid tribute to their hero. The cycling world was well represented with Gálvez director sportif Eusebio Unzue and manager José Miguel Echevarri from team Caisse dEpargne - Illes Balears, and teammates Oscar Pereiro Sio, Alejandro Valverde Belmonte, Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver, and Vladimir Karpets. Juan Llaneras, the long time partner, co-world champion in Madison and good friend was also there to say farewell.
Many other Spanish riders like José Vicente Garcia Acosta, Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni, Angel Edo Alsina, Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero, the brothers Ignacio and José Enrique Gutierrez Cataluna paid tribute to the Spanish rider. Also former riders like Miguel Poblet and Vuelta organizer Melchior Mauri, the president of the Spanish IOC Alejandro Blanco and Fulgencio Sánchez, president of the Spanish cycling federation were present.
The Belgian organizers from the Ghent Six Day, Patrick Sercu and Rob Discart had traveled to Spain to honour Isaac Gálvez Lopez. "Im glad that we could be here; for us this is also a way to end this sad chapter," Discart said. He saw Davinia, Isaacs new wife who is now a widow and a broken woman. "She was completely shocked and had to be supported; that was a heartrending scene. Here you see how big this drama is; everybody who was here had a hard time," Discart explained in Het Nieuwsblad. After the short emotional ceremony, the procession towards the cemetery was led by the parents, the two brothers and Davinia Gálvez.
Meanwhile Juan Llaneras suggested he may retire. The three times world champion Madison (twice with Gálvez) has been teamed up with his friend Gálvez in the Madison since 1999. The 37 year-old had two more goals in his career: becoming world champion in Madison on his home soil in Mallorca, and shining during the Beijing Olympics in 2008. All those plans were wiped away after the crash in Ghent. Rob Discart saw Llaneras at the funeral in Vilanova i la Geltrú, "Llaneras had it very difficult." The ceremony on Tuesday concluded another sad chapter in recent cycling history.