Belgian cyclist Antoine Demoitié has been killed following an accident at the 2016 Gent-Wevelgem road race in northern France. Reports suggest that the 25-year-old, who competed for Wanty-Groupe Gobert (WGG), collided with a motorbike during a heavy crash before being placed on an intensive care unit at the University Hospital in Lille.
Updating his status via their Twitter account, the team stressed on Sunday night that he remained in a serious condition surrounded by his family before posting a picture of the rider featuring his name and the dates 1990-2016 earlier this morning.
"The rider died," Frederic Evard, a spokesman for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais regional gendarmerie, later told Agence France-Presse. "An inquiry is under way to determine the circumstances."
In an official statement, cycling's world governing body said: "The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is extremely saddened to learn about the passing of Belgian rider Antoine Demoitié of Wanty-Groupe Gobert. The UCI will cooperate with all relevant authorities to investigate the circumstances of this tragic incident."
The race organisers added: "To their deepest regrets the organisation of Ghent-Wevelgem and Flanders Classics have received the sad news that Antoine Demoitié has passed away in the hospital of Lille, France. Ghent-Wevelgem and Flanders Classics want to address their condolences to the family, friends and team members of Wanty-Groupe Gobert.
"What should have been a festive day, turned into a day of sadness. Parents lose a child, teammates lose a friend and Belgian cycling loses a talent-to-be. The passing away of Demoitié is a slap in the face for the whole cycling world. May you rest in peace, Antoine."
Wanty–Groupe Gobert are due to hold a press conference in De Panne, West Flanders later on tonight. They later said: "Thanks for your overwhelming support. The team is touched by all the messages. We will bounce back and #RideForAntoine."
World champion Peter Sagan collected his first victory in the rainbow jersey during the one-day classic, with Tinkoff's Slovakian rider beating Sep Vanmarcke and Vyacheslav Kuznetsov in a sprint finish. Influential figures from across the sport of cycling have taken to social media to pay tribute to Demoitié, including two-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish and Ivan Basso.