News of the death of Antoine Demoitié, who was hit by a race motorbike at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, broke in the early hours of Monday morning, and many in the cycling world took to social channels to express their sadness and offer their condolences.
Sep Vanmarcke, who finished second at the race behind Peter Sagan, was among the riders who paid tribute to the 25-year-old Belgian.
"Suddenly a 2nd place no longer important after this terrible news," he wrote on Twitter. "Rest in peace Antoine Demoitié. Good luck to all."
Tom Devriendt, Kenny Dehaes, Gaetan Bille and Mark McNally were among the Wanty-Groupe Gobert riders to post messages on Monday and were joined by riders from a range of teams and nationalities.
RIP Antoine, 27/3/16 is a black page now. My thoughts are with his family and friends. Still hoping this is a dream. pic.twitter.com/hGyKnOfp63— Tom Devriendt (@TomDevriendt) March 28, 2016
Courage aux proches. RIP Antoine pic.twitter.com/ER8wcXe16S— FEILLU Brice (@FEILLUBrice) March 28, 2016
It feels unreal to read that @DemoitieAntoine didn't survive his crash yesterday. My deepest condolences to his family, friends & teammates.— Marcel Kittel (@marcelkittel) March 28, 2016
No words to describe this tragedy... pic.twitter.com/UoEaN6gZiE— Mark McNally (@mmcnallycycling) March 28, 2016
Horrible tragic news to wake up to. The cycling family has lost a brother. #RIPAntoine— Dan Martin (@DanMartin86) March 28, 2016
Horrible news. Deeply saddened. Makes you realise how vulnerable we are. All the strength to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/oMkpR892ck— Bauke Mollema (@BaukeMollema) March 28, 2016
Descanse en paz Antoine Demoitié. Condolencias a su familia y al equipo @TeamWantyGobert— alejandro valverde (@alejanvalverde) March 28, 2016
Such tragic news. RIP Antoine Demoitie. My thoughts and condolences are with your family, friends and teammates.— Mark Cavendish (@MarkCavendish) March 28, 2016
Race vehicles and rider safety
As well as expressing their sadness at Demoitié's death, many riders also called for action to be taken to enhance rider safety. It is an issue that has become increasingly pressing over the past couple of years, with an alarming string of accidents involving riders and in-race vehicles.
Peter Sagan, Taylor Phinney, Greg Van Avermaet, Sergio Paulinho, Jakob Fuglsang, Jesse Sergent, Sylvain Chavanel, and Stig Broeckx are just some of the riders who have been injured - to varying degrees - in incidents involving motorbikes or cars.
"Regulations on motos in races are needed NOW," wrote Alberto Contador on Twitter, and his sentiments were echoed by his Tinkoff teammate Mick Rogers, who posted a picture of Viacheslav Kuznetsov surrounded by vehicles at Gent-Wevelgem.
One measure suggested by Rogers was to impose a speed limit on in-race vehicles when passing riders, the idea being that it would give drivers more time to react to hazards.
"Cap moto speed to 15-20km/h faster than peloton when passing = increased reaction time when unexpected happens," wrote the Australian.
His thoughts were echoed by Frenchman Warren Barguil in a Twitter exchange with Dan Martin and Carlos Verona (Etixx-QuickStep), with the Spaniard also calling for a reduction in the number of vehicles and more stringent processes before drivers are allowed into a race.
Passing the peloton on downhills and during crucial moments in a race, when speed is high and fight for position frantic is just not safe— Dan Martin (@DanMartin86) March 28, 2016