Tue, Apr 10, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Sagan’s victory overshadowed by rider’s death

AP, PARIS

Slovakia’s Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe, right, competes in the 116th Paris-Roubaix between Compiegne and Roubaix, France, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

World champion Peter Sagan on Sunday outsprinted Silvan Dillier to the finish line to win the prestigious Paris-Roubaix race, but his first victory in the race known as the “Queen of the Classics” was overshadowed by the death of Belgian rider Michael Goolaerts.

Goolaerts’ team said the 23-year-old rider died in a Lille hospital where he had been admitted following his collapse at the one-day classic.

“It is with unimaginable sadness that we have to communicate the passing of our rider and friend Michael Goolaerts,” Veranda’s Willems-Crelan said in a statement.

The team said Goolaerts died “in the presence of his family members and loved ones, who we keep in our thoughts.”

Goolaerts had been evacuated by helicopter after crashing about 150km from the finish.

Television footage showed Goolaerts lying unresponsive on the side of the road as the peloton passed him. He was quickly attended to by a medical team.

Goolaerts rode in support of cyclo-cross world champion Wout van Aert of Belgium.

His most significant result this season was 20th place at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

Slovakia’s Sagan became the first defending world champion to win the one-day classic along cobbled streets since Frenchman Bernard Hinault 37 years ago.

Bora-Hansgrohe’s Sagan and AG2R La Mondiale’s Dillier rode together at the front for the final 25km.

Sagan launched the sprint in the Roubaix Velodrome and used his greater power to prevail.

“It’s amazing to win [the] Paris-Roubaix. I’m tired after this race, but not as tired as in previous years when I didn’t win it for some reasons,” Sagan said. “I attacked at the right moment and I kept going until the finish.”

Dutch rider Niki Terpstra of Quick-Step Floors, who won the Tour des Flandres the previous weekend and the 2014 edition of Paris-Roubaix, completed the podium.

Sagan tried to drop Dillier on the cobblestone section of the famed Carrefour de l’Arbre, but the Swiss rider did not lose contact with his rival, guaranteeing some suspense until the final sprint.

“It’s really nice to win this race with the world champion jersey. I said before the race that my goal was to do my best. I’ve done my best,” Sagan said.

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