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Twenty-three-year-old Belgian rider Michael Goolaerts (Veranda’s Willems-Crelan) has died after going into cardiac arrest during Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix.
TV cameras caught vision of Goolaerts lying unconscious by the roadside with roughly 150km to go in the race. He was treated by the race’s medical staff at the scene before being airlifted to hospital in Lille. Late on Sunday night Goolaerts’ team confirmed that the rider had passed away.
“It is with unimaginable sadness that we have to communicate the passing of our rider and friend Michael Goolaerts,” the team said on Twitter. “He passed away Sunday evening at 22:40 in Lille hospital in the presence of his family members and loved ones, who we keep in our thoughts.
“He died of cardiac arrest, all medical assistance was to no avail.”
Goolaerts first joined Veranda’s Willems-Crelan in 2013 as a trainee, before signing with the squad in 2014. He rode as a stagiare at Lotto Soudal in late 2016 and continued at Veranda’s Willems-Crelan in 2017 as the team stepped up from Continental to Pro Continental level. Sunday’s race was his Paris-Roubaix debut.
Many within the cycling scene have taken to social media to offer their condolences.
“The whole evening I was hoping for the best, but afraid of the worst,” wrote Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac). “I was worried that this post would come up… Much strength to Michael’s family, friends and team. Best wishes. RIP”
It is not yet clear whether Goolaerts went into cardiac arrest as a result of a crash, or whether he crashed as a result of the cardiac arrest. Goolaerts’ death comes just over two years after fellow Belgian Daan Myngheer died after a similar incident at the 2016 Criterium International.
CyclingTips would like to extend its condolences to Goolaerts’ friends, family and the riders and staff of the Veranda’s Willems-Crelan team.