Belgian Demoitie dies in race motorbike smash

The 25-year-old, a member of Belgium's second-division team Wanty-Gobert, was involved in a fall along with other riders around 150 kilometres (90 miles) into the race on Sunday in Sainte-Marie-Cappel. He was then hit by a motorbike while on the ground, before being transported to a hospital in Lille where he succumbed to his injuries.

A witness quoted by Belgian daily SudPresse said four riders were involved in a fall in front of the motorbike, which "literally fell on top of" Demoitie.   -  Twitter

Belgian cyclist Antoine Demoitie has died after he was struck by a motorbike following a fall during the Gent-Wevelgem race in Belgium, police said. The 25-year-old, a member of Belgium's second-division team Wanty-Gobert, was involved in a fall along with other riders around 150 kilometres (90 miles) into the race on Sunday in Sainte-Marie-Cappel, northern France.

He was then hit by a motorbike while on the ground, before being transported to a hospital in Lille where he succumbed to his injuries. "The rider died. An inquiry is under way to determine the circumstances," Frederic Evrard, spokesman for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais regional gendarmerie in France, said late on Sunday.

A witness quoted by Belgian daily SudPresse said four riders were involved in a fall in front of the motorbike, which "literally fell on top of" Demoitie. Other witnesess said the Belgian rider was hit on the head.

The cyclist's team earlier said Demoitie was taken to hospital in "extremely serious condition". "His wife and his family are at his side," the team wrote on Twitter. The Gent-Wevelgem cobbled classic lived up to its gruelling reputation on Sunday, with riders battling strong winds as they tackled 10 climbs over a 243 kilometre route.

Debusschere also hospitalised

Former Belgian national champion Jens Debusschere was also hospitalised after he sustained a concussion following a heavy crash, his Lotto-Soudal team said. The race, which includes two ascents of the hills of Kemmelberg, was won by Slovakia's Peter Sagan.

A number of accidents have struck the sport this year, including the death of young hope Romain Guyot. The 23-year-old Frenchman died on March 3 when he was hit by a truck at a crossroads in the west of the country.

In January, six racers from the Giant-Alpecin team, including German John Degenkolb and French Warren Barguil, were injured in a collision with a car during a training ride south of Valencia. In 2011, Demoitie's compatriot Wouter Weylandt died from injuries suffered in a crash during the third stage of the Giro d'Italia.

On Saturday, 22-year-old Belgian rider Daan Myngheer suffered a heart attack during the Criterium International race in Corsica. He was put on artificial respiration and was said to be in a coma.

Demoite joined the Wanty-Gobert team in early 2016 after three seasons at Walonnie-Bruxelles. An excellent sprinter, particularly in uphill finishes, he won the Tour of Finistere in France in 2014, and was second in the Handzame Classic and GP Stad Zottegam in Belgium in 2015.