Top Spanish mountain biker Iñaki Lejarreta, 29, was killed on Sunday when he was struck by a car while training in the Basque town of Iuretta.
At around 9:30 am on Sunday morning, Lejarreta - whose father Ismael and uncle Marino were both professional riders in the 1970s and 1980s, with Marino winning the Vuelta in 1982 - was struck by a car whilst training on a highway, police sources say. The rider fell onto the hard shoulder of what appears to be a broad, busy road close to some blocks of flats, his bike spinning over onto the other side of some low cement crash barriers. Although two ambulance units tried their best to save his life, it proved impossible.
A former junior World Champion in 2001 and silver medallist in 2000, Lejarreta was one of Spanish mountain biking’s leading lights. In 2011, he took silver in the Spanish national cross country championships as well as bronze in 2012 and 2007, and he also participated in the 2008 Olympics. As an under 23 rider, Lejarreta finished fourth in the Worlds, took silver three times in the cross country nationals, and was runner-up in the European Championships in 2004. He raced with the Orbea squad through 2012, but with the team disbanding in 2013, he had not yet found a new squad.
Lejaretta was married and he and his wife Naiara Telletxea - herself a former bike racer who then became Lejarreta’s trainer - were expecting their first child in January. Earlier this season, Spanish cycling already mourned the loss of another promising young rider, Euskaltel professional Victor Cabedo, when he was struck by a vehicle when training.
Cyclingnews offers its condolences to the family and friends of Lejarreta.