Raymond Impanis passes away

Belgian classics rider Raymond Impanis has died at the age of 85 after struggling with pneumonia, Belgian media have reported.

Impanis was an all-round classics rider much like fellow Belgian Philippe Gilbert but also finished sixth in the 1957 Tour de France and tenth in 1958 after winning two stages.

Born in the small town of Berg, Impanis was nicknamed the 'Bakkertje van Berg' because his family were bakers. He was a successful independent rider in 1946, winning three stages of the Tour of Belgium. He rode as a professional from 1947 to 1963 and rode Paris-Roubaix 16 times during his long career, a feat only equaled by Servais Knaven this year.

He finished fourth in his first season aged just 22 and finally conquered the pave in 1954, when he also won the Tour of Flanders.

Impanis finished second at Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 1947, 1948 and 1954 but never managed to win the Doyenne of the spring classics. However he finished third overall in the 1956 Vuelta and won Fleche-Wallonne in 1957 and Paris-Nice 1960. He retired in 1961.

Impanis' son has confirmed to Het Laatste Nieuws that the GP Raymond Impanis race will be held again in 2011 after a 15-year absence. The race is reserved for Elite riders but was open to professional until 1982, with previous winners including Allan Pieper and Phil Anderson.

The race will start in Haacht and end with several laps of Impanis' birthplace in Berg-Kampenhout.

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