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U23 Paris-Roubaix winner Tijl De Decker dies after “crashing into car” during training ride

Lotto Dstny, the team the 22-year-old was set to turn professional with in 2024, confirmed the sad news following Wednesday’s crash

Tijl De Decker, the promising young Belgian rider who was set to turn professional with Lotto Dstny next year, has died two days after a collision involving a motorist during a training ride, the team confirmed today.

The 22-year-old, who won Paris-Roubaix Espoirs, the U23 version of the famous cobbled classic, in May while racing for Lotto Dstny’s development team, crashed “hard” into the back of a car while training near the Belgian city of Lier on Wednesday, local police and his team confirmed.

After losing a lot of blood in the collision, De Decker was rushed to hospital in Lier to undergo surgery, before being transferred to Antwerp University Hospital (UZA), where he was placed in an induced coma.

Today, however, Lotto Dstny confirmed in a short statement that De Decker had passed away from his injuries this morning.

“It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing of our rider Tijl De Decker. Today Tijl has lost his battle to recover from the severe injuries he sustained after his crash in training last Wednesday,” the team said.

“Tijl crashed hard into the backside of a car and was brought to the hospital in Lier where he immediately underwent surgery. Later that evening he was transported to the Antwerp University Hospital.

“Despite the best efforts of the staff at the hospital, Tijl couldn’t make it through and this morning he lost his battle.

“The team is heartbroken by this news and sends all of its love and thoughts to Tijl’s family and loved ones in this incredibly difficult time.”

The young Belgian prospect had enjoyed a successful 2023 racing for Lotto’s development squad, earning him his first professional contract with the senior team for next year. In March, he won a stage of the Tour of Taiwan, before taking a breakthrough victory at the U23 Paris-Roubaix in May, just weeks after finishing second at the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic in Melton Mowbray.

On Sunday, just three days before the tragic collision, he finished fourth at the U23 Belgian road race championships in Putte.

Lotto Dstny’s CEO Stéphane Heulot said in a statement: “We are devastated by the loss of our cyclist. Tijl showed big progression this year and we believed in his growth margin. Stepping up to the pro team was a logical choice.

“Unfortunately he will never turn pro and we will always remember him as a talented young rider and a warm and friendly person off the bike. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones, and our thoughts are with them during this difficult time.”

In the wake of the crash, Lier Police confirmed that the incident “took place on a public road, outside the centre” of the city.

“A traffic expert from the public prosecutor’s office arrived on site, and an investigation is underway into the exact circumstances. I can confirm that a passenger car was involved in the accident,” the spokesperson said.

De Decker is, horrifically, the third aspiring pro to be killed in recent months while training on the roads.

In July, Magnus White, a promising 17-year-old multi-discipline cyclist who was due to represent the United States at the UCI Cycling World Championships in Scotland, was killed after being hit from behind by a motorist as he used the hard shoulder of a highway popular with local riders.

And in May, 24-year-old Irish rider Gabriele Glodenyte, one of the country’s rising stars and the winner of the 2022 National Road Series, was killed in a collision with an oncoming motorist during a training ride with her partner and fellow racer Sean Landers in Co Dublin.

Today’s sad news also comes just over four years after De Decker’s Belgian team, then known as Lotto-Soudal, mourned the terrible loss of their 22-year-old star Bjorg Lambrecht, who died following a crash at the Tour of Poland in August 2019.

Lambrecht, tipped as one of cycling’s brightest prospects after some brilliant performances in the hilly Belgian classics, crashed into a concrete culvert during stage three of that year’s race, suffering a cardiac arrest caused by a massive internal haemorrhage.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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5 comments

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Surreyrider | 9 months ago
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So very sad. Thoughts with his family. Go ride in the sky Tijl.

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dubwise | 9 months ago
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Just terrible, my thoughts are with his family ahd friends.

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AidanR | 9 months ago
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Horrible news. My thoughts are with his family and friends.

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brooksby | 9 months ago
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Was the car stationary? RIP, in any case 

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Off the back replied to brooksby | 9 months ago
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From what I've read elsewhere not long after the incident he was said to have hit the back of the car with a great deal of force which brings me assume it was during a fast descent and the vehicle was either parked or had come to a stop in the road. 

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