The funeral of Lotto Soudal rider Bjorg Lambrecht will be held on Tuesday morning in his home village of Knesselare, between Bruges and Ghent, with a large outdoor screen broadcasting the ceremony for the hundreds of people expected to attend.
22-year-old Lambrecht tragically died after crashing during stage 3 of the tour de Pologne last Monday. He apparently lost control of his bike and hit a concrete culvert, suffering severe laceration to his liver that caused an internal hemorrhage and a cardiac arrest.
Lambrecht was in only his second year as a professional with Lotto Soudal, but 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.
His death left the Tour de Pologne and the wider sport in shock. Stage 4 of the race was neutralised, with Lotto Soudal riders and then other teams taking turns on the front to remember Lambrecht. A black finishing arch and bearing Lambrecht's name and his Tour de Pologne race number 143 was erected at the top of a long wooded climb just before the finish. The six 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 another minute's silence.
The riders decided to continue in the race to honour Lambrecht and work through their own grief. All the Lotto Soudal team, apart from those in action at the BinckBank Tour, are expected to attend Lambrecht’s funeral. Tim Wellens, Stan Dewulf, Frederik Frison, Nikolas Maes, Maxime Monfort, Rémy Mertz and Brian van Goethem will race in the BinckBank Tour with a black armband.
The riders did not attend the pre-race team presentation on Sunday, instead visiting the mortuary to pay last their last respects to their teammate. A book of remembrance has been signed by hundreds of people in Knesselare.
The race will pass near Knesselare on Wednesday and remember Lambrecht with a minute’s silence. A flower wreath will be laid outside his supporter’s café.
"It will be a difficult week for us. It will take time to work through Bjorg's loss," directeur sportif Herman Frison told Belgian newspaper Het Latste Nieuws.
"It feels like there will be a shadow cast over our team for a while. Transforming the negative feelings into positive energy is not easy."