In a packed Saint Paul's Church in Antwerp, friends, colleagues and family said goodbye to Kristof Goddaert. The 27-year-old IAM Cycling rider died in a training accident with a bus in Antwerp last Tuesday. Omloop het Nieuwsblad, the next race Goddaert would take part in, will start with a minute of silence to remember him.
"Kristof was a great teammate. He just was great fun," his former Topsport Vlaanderen team manager Walter Planckaert told Sporza. "He was the man who gave the team morale. When we were on team training camp he just took the microphone and sang a song in front of us. It's a great loss to the cycling community."
Flowers were sent by his former Ag2r-La Mondiale team. The ribbon read: "We will miss your joy and your smile. The Ag2r-La Mondiale team thinks of you." Representatives of his last team IAM Cycling were also present.
His best friend Moreno de Pauw, currently riding the World Track Championships in Cali, Colombia, said goodbye with a poem. To remember their friend, the Belgian team pursuit rode with a decal of Goddaert on their bikes. "One of your dreams was riding a team pursuit with us! That dream came true today buddy!!," De Pauw wrote on Instagram.
Among the people attending the funeral were colleagues like Thomas de Gendt, Jan Bakelants, Sep Vanmarcke, former riders like Tom Steels, Wilfried Peeters, Marc Sergeant and Omega Pharma Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere. Cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar was one of the men carrying Goddaert's coffin out of the church while the music played "Simply the best".
Heinrich Haussler attended the funeral of Goddaert. He wrote an emotional goodbye to his teammate and friend.
"The days since his death have been rough for everyone who knew him, and my thoughts and true felt condolences go out to his closest friends and family. Today is all about saying goodbye, an opportunity we never really had. I’m sure there will be a huge amount of support today, not just from our team but a number of squads and riders. The Belgian cycling community will come together and pay their respects."
Omloop het Nieuwsblad, a race Goddaert would take part in this Saturday, will start with a minute of silence to remember the Belgian rider.
"I know it might sound weird, but in some way I still think Kristof will be with us in the peloton. I didn’t believe in any of that before but I have that feeling that he’s still going to be around, on the front, diving into those corners and joking in the pack. We won't forget you," Haussler concluded.