(AFP) – A young French professional cyclist was killed in a collision with an ambulance at a race in New Caledonia, organisers said Friday, a crash that also broke the leg of his teammate.
Mathieu Riebel, 20, was killed instantly in the horror smash at the Tour de Nouvelle-Caledonie – an annual 870 kilometre race across the French pacific territory.
His teammate Erwan Brenterch, 31, also suffered a broken leg in the accident, which occurred during a descent section on the western edge of the main island.
“The race has been stopped and I don’t know if we will resume tomorrow,” Gerard Salaun, president of New Caledonia’s regional cycling committee said.
The exact cause of the crash was still to be determined, Salaun said. But he added that one of the cyclists is believed to have cut a corner.
“Riders, teams, companions, participants in Au Tour d’Elles, journalists, everyone has learned with shock and great sadness of the tragic accident that occurred during the descent of the Col de la Pirogue, which cost Mathieu Riebel his life and seriously injured Erwan Brenterch, both of the Shell Pacific team,” a statement on the race’s Facebook page posted on Friday read.
“Mathieu was doing his best to bring his leader back into the peloton after mechanical trouble. It was on the high-speed descent of the pass that the collision with a vehicle occurred. The whole organization sends its deepest condolences to Mathieu’s family.”
The accident took place on the first stage of the tour which began on October 13 with 62 riders.