As Enrico Gasparotto sat in the press room after winning Amstel Gold Race for the second time, he couldn’t help but cast his mind back three weeks to when he first learned of the tragic crash that claimed his teammate Antoine Demoitié’s life.
On that Sunday afternoon, Gasparotto was has in high spirits as he waited with his Wanty-Groupe Gobert companions for their flights home after a tough Volta a Catalunya. Gent-Wevelgem was taking place at the same time, and the general levity in the departures lounge at Barcelona airport was quickly dampened when word filtered through that Antoine Demoitié had been struck by a motorbike after crashing during the race, and was now in a critical condition in hospital.
“I was with Gaëten Bille, Antoine’s best friend on the team, when we got the call about his crash,” Gasparotto said in Valkenburg on Sunday. “It was a special moment. Gaëten called his wife and then we realised that he was close to death. From that point, I felt sick inside. I couldn’t sleep that night.”
Gasparotto awoke at his Swiss home on the Monday morning to the doleful confirmation that Demoitié had died, and was still processing the news when anti-doping testers knocked on his door for an out-of-competition control. “Ok, it’s our job, and we have to do the controls, but it was not the right moment to do a control,” he said.