By Laura Weislo
The 31 year old world Madison champion and Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears sprinter, Isaac Gálvez Lopez, died early Sunday morning, November 26, as a result of a crash in the Gent Six Day. During the final Madison of the fifth night, the Spaniard collided with Dimitri DeFauw and flew into a railing, falling immediately unconscious. The medics resuscitated him at the track, but he died en route to the hospital.
The fifth night of the Gent Six Day had been another packed house, and many of the spectators, who up until moments before had been having the time of their lives, were in shock. One of the organisers had to be taken to the hospital with chest pains. An emotional Rob Discart, promoter of the event, declared that this edition of the Gent Six Day is now over, "out of respect to Gálvez, his family and the other riders".
A talented trackie and accomplished road sprinter, Isaac Gálvez was twice world champion on the track, first in 1999 and most recently in April of this year, both times winning the Madison with partner Juan Llaneras. The pair also earned silver medals in the Madison at the 2000 and 2001 world championships. Galvez went pro on the road in 2000, joining Kelme-Costa Blanca, and had his first professional road win that year in the Classica del Almeria.
In 2003 he rode the Giro d'Italia, and was infamously was involved in the stage 11 crash that took Mario Cipollini out of the race. For the 2004 season, he moved to Illes Balears-Banesto where he won stages in the Volta a Cataluna and Setmana Catalana, and was second to Alessandro Petacchi in the 2005 Trofeo Luis Puig.
The 2006 season with Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears started off well for Gálvez, and he took the firsttwo stages of the Challenge Illes Balears in Mallorca. After winning the world championship on the track, he went back to the road, and won the final stage of the Four days of Dunkirk. He started this year's Tour de France, where he worked for Alejandro Valverde as well as challenging for the bunch sprints. He came closest to a Grand Tour stage win in the fouth stage of the 2006 Tour when he finished second to Robbie McEwen. He abandoned the tour on stage 12.
Gálvez was a quiet man from Barcelona who had just married several weeks ago. Eddy Merckx said that he spoke with the world champion just this Wednesday, "I was in the Kuipke on Wednesday and had a short conversation with the world champion. To learn in the morning that this boy died comes very hard.. A rider can fall ten times without a lot happening... This must be very hard on his family and friends."