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Peloton pays its respects to Arnaud Coyot

Friends and former colleagues of ex-pro Arnaud Coyot have been paying tribute to the Frenchman, who died after the vehicle in which he was travelling hit a roadside barrier close to his home town of Beauvais, in northern France, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Coyot, 33, died some hours later in Amiens hospital without regaining consciousness after the crash.

A pro for 10 seasons, Coyot rode in the colours of Cofidis, Unibet, Caisse d’Epargne and Sojasun before retiring at the end of 2012 as a result of a persistent knee injury. He rode the Tour de France four times, finishing on each occasion. He returned to the race this year as a driver of one of the VIP vehicles.

Former Caisse d’Epargne team-mate Joaquim Rodríguez described Coyot as "one of the best team-mates and people that I have ever met in the world of cycling." Another former Caisse d’Epargne colleague, Iván Gutiérrez posted on Twitter: "An extraordinary French colleague has died! Coyot! He was a great person! How unjust life is."

Tributes also came from his former team-mates at the Belgian Unibet team, including Baden Cooke and Rigoberto Urán. "I am so very sad to hear about the passing of Arnaud Coyot. 33 yo, way too young to die. He was a great guy and top teammate. RIP," Cooke said in a post on his Twitter page. Urán said: "I had the chance to spent three seasons with this great man who fate has taken from us."

Coyot spent his last two seasons as a pro with Saur-Sojasun, whose former leader Jérôme Coppel commented: "There are no words to express my grief and what I am feeling… he is in the forefront of my thoughts." Another ex-Sojasun rider, Jimmy Engoulvent said: "Arnaud has left us before his time, but with great memories of the time we spent together that will always remain engraved in my mind."

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).