Bjorg Lambrecht laid to rest in hometown

Friends, family, colleagues and supporters of Bjorg Lambrecht gathered in the village of Knesselare, Belgium on Tuesday as the Lotto Soudal rider was laid to rest in the Church of Saint Willibrordus.

Hundreds of people turned out to say their final goodbyes to Lambrecht, with over 500 people gathered outside the church in his hometown to watch the funeral service on a big screen.

Lambrecht died after falling during stage 3 of the Tour de Pologne last Monday. The 22-year-old Belgian hit a concrete culvert after going off-road, suffering severe liver lacerations which led to a cardiac arrest. 

Five of Lambrecht's Lotto Soudal teammates, as well as former teammate André Greipel, carried his coffin into the church, while at the BinckBank Tour, Lotto riders raced wearing black wristbands. The BinckBank Tour peloton will observe a minute’s silence on Wednesday’s stage 3, and a flower wreath will be laid outside his supporter’s café in the Knesselare.

"This is a big loss," said Lotto team manager Marc Sargeant to Sporza. "It will take a long time before we process it. In any case, Bjorg will stay with us in the team forever."

Lambrecht's Lotto Soudal teammates – excluding those at the BinckBank Tour – were present at the service, as were a number of luminaries from Belgian cycling, including Walter Godefroot and President of the Belgian Cycling Federation, Tom Van Damme. UCI President David Lappartient also attended.

"We have lost a great talent but my thoughts are mainly with the family and parents who have lost their son," Van Damme told Sporza. "In Belgium we have recently lost several riders, but fate really struck Bjorg. If he had fallen a metre further, we wouldn’t be here today."

During the ceremony, Bjorg Lambrecht's parents read letters to their son.

"We have experienced so much, seen so much, experienced so much, driven so much, traveled. We are so grateful to you, you have given us so much," Lambrecht's mum said in tears.

"You can't go now? Why, why you? Why haven't you stayed? There is so much to live. We miss you. The emptiness you leave behind is unbearable."

They were in Poland when their son died.

"When we saw you at the start of the first two stages you radiated with self-confidence, you were in super condition. Your carer also said it was never so good mentally and physically with you", Lambrecht's father said. 

"Just before the start, we were high in the stadium grandstand. When you entered the stadium, we saw that you were looking for us. We started waving with our arms. You saw us and you nodded with your chin up, followed through with your beautiful smile."

"But ... Something has decided during stage 3 that you could not or could not ride stage 4."

"During the dark days after your death, I got to know the people around you even better. Bjorg, you must have been a magnet that attracted beautiful, sweet, warm people. Carmina, a gentle, sweet girl who was full of love for you, all your friends who looked up to you and gave us warmth and your supporters ... "

"You were a sweet, social, beautiful boy. This farewell is super hard for me. I love you and I know you love us too. I miss you and I know you miss us too. I am proud of you and I know you are proud of us. " 

"Salut Bjorg, salut Belgian champion, salut future champion. We will all carry you in our hearts."

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