Tragedy has struck in the fifth running of the Transcontinental ultra-endurance race, with organisers reporting the death of competitor Frank Simons in a traffic collision during the early stages of the event, which departed from Belgium.
According to Simons’ tracker he had covered 82 kilometres from the start of the event in Geraardsbergen, Belgium when the tragedy took place.
The fatal collision occurred at approximately 3am on Saturday morning at Vergnies, close to the French border. Belgian newspapers are reporting that this was a hit and run and police are looking for the driver.
The fifth edition of the self-supported race across Europe was the first being run without its founder and organiser, Mike Hall, who died on the roads of Australia in March while competing in an ultra-endurance race. It’s been an incredibly difficult year for this community of self-supported racers as they first lost Hall at the Indian Pacific Wheel Race, then — after years of being run without fatalities — Eric Fishbein died after being struck during the Trans Am and now Simons at the Transcontinental.
“Frank Simons’ death in the early hours of this race is a tragedy that has affected the cycling community deeply, and will continue to affect everyone close to the Transcontinental for a long time to come,” said the organisers of the Transcontinental Race in a Facebook post.
“The TCRNo5 team have been working today to verify the information and to contact Frank’s appointed next of kin. Our next priority was to communicate with our riders, all of whom will be deeply affected by this shocking news,” added the organisers.
The race will be continuing for those competitors that still want to go on.
“It is important to us that we respect the wishes of Frank and his family. Frank was an Audax rider, and had applied to race in TCRNo4. We understand from Frank’s wife that he would have wanted the race to continue and that everyone racing be able to continue their adventure on the TCRNo5,” said the Transcontinental race team.
“In honour and respect of what we understand to be Frank’s wishes, we currently feel it is appropriate that the TCRNo5 organisation continue to provide the race infrastructure as before, allowing the riders discretion in deciding their own course of action.”
The organisers added that they can not comment on the particular incident as it is an active police investigation, which they will assist by providing all the information they have available.
CyclingTips would like to offer its heartfelt condolences to Frank Simons’ family and friends as well as the organisers of the Transcontinental race.