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2020 Tour de Pologne to remember Bjorg Lambrecht

The Lotto Soudal riders remember Bjorg Lambrecht during the 2019 Tour de Pologne
The Lotto Soudal riders remember Bjorg Lambrecht during the 2019 Tour de Pologne (Image credit: Getty Images)

The Tour de Pologne will remember Bjorg Lambrecht when the race begins in Chorzow on August 5, exactly a year after the talented young Belgian died after a crash.

Lambrecht's 143 race number has already been retired for eternity and the organisers have also decided to name the best young competition in honour of  Lambrecht's young talents. The race will hold a minute's silence before the start of the opening stage.

"Bjorg will be with us forever. We will never forget him. We want to remember him in several ways," explained race director Czeslaw Lang.

Lotto-Soudal will field a strong team for the 2020 Tour de Pologne to honour their former teammate, with 2016 Tour de Pologne winner Tim Wellens, John Degenkolb, Thomas de Gendt and Polish rider Tomasz Marczynski selected.

"We want to pay tribute to Bjorg's memory as well as thank the organizers and the Polish fans for all their amazing support. They were with us and encouraged us in the most difficult moments. We will never forget that, just as we will never forget Bjorg," Lotto-Soudal team manager John Lelangue said.

"The number 143 is featured on our team cars and is in the official team communication. I am very glad that, at the end of the race, the best young cyclist will receive a special Bjorg prize. It will be extremely symbolic."

Lambrecht veered off the road and hit a concrete culvert partway through stage 3 from Chorzow and Zabrze. His Lotto-Soudal team explained that he suffered sever liver damage and internal hemorrhaging in the crash, sparking a cardiac arrest. His death sparked an outpouring of emotion at the race and at home in Belgium. The peloton and the Lotto-Soudal riders remembered him during stage 4, riding in procession before the Lotto Soudal riders rode to within 50 metres of the finish, then dismounted and stood, arms round each other in a long line across the narrow hill road for a minute's silence under a special banner.

Lambrecht was in only his second year as a professional when he passed away. He already had one professional win under his belt – a stage of the Tour des Fjords, in Norway, in 2018, and was widely considered to be one of Belgium's future stars of the sport, having finished second to recent Tour de France winner Egan Bernal at the 2017 Tour de l'Avenir and fourth at this year's Flèche Wallonne.

Veteran Lotto Soudal rider Adam Hansen referred to Lambrecht affectionately as 'Matchbox' – presumably thanks to his diminutive size as a climber.

"I remember picking up his wallet as he would leave it many times at coffee shops," wrote Hansen. "I remember trying to locate his lost iPhone when he left it behind somewhere… Now Matchbox leaves us behind… He was a good kid..." Hansen said in a moving message soon after his death.

Tomasz Marczynski was at last year's Tour de Pologne when Lambrecht passed away and plans his own personal way of remembering his teammate.  

"The memory of Bjorg is such an additional motivation for all of us. I believe it will give us strength in crucial moments," he said.

"We want to fight for the highest goals, so that we can dedicate this success to him. I will certainly have something symbolic with me, in memory of Bjorg. Maybe it will be a symbol on my helmet, maybe on my shoes."

The full details of the 2020 Tour de Pologne, will be presented on July 1.

The WorldTour stage race was originally scheduled for July 5-11 as an alternative to the Tour de France before the Tokyo Olympics. It will now be a vital early race in the revised race calendar after the COVID-19 pandemic lead to the suspension of racing.