BRUSSELS (AFP) — Belgium cycling lost one of its budding stars on Saturday as the local media reported the death of junior world time-trial champion Igor Decraene.
He was 18.
The RTBF Sport website originally reported that he had been involved in an accident. But the Belga news agency reported later that Decraene had committed suicide. The agency gave no further details.
Decraens won the time-trial title in Florence last year, having also collected the national crown. He was in line to ride for Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s development squad.
“Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Igor Decraene,” the team said via Twitter.
His cycling club, De Tieltse Rennersclub, said via Facebook: “Our thoughts are with his parents, his brothers and his family, to whom we wish a lot of strength and courage in this terrible ordeal.”
The club’s sports director, Koen Dutroit, who told Het Laatste Nieus that Decraene “couldn’t wait to defend his title at the world championships,” said he was stunned by the news.
UCI president Brian Cookson issued a statement, which reads, “This is a terribly sad news. Igor was a very promising rider. Our thoughts are with his parents, brothers, family and friends.”
The Belgian cycling federation said Decraene had been training with the national team in preparation for the UCI world road championships in Ponferrada, Spain.
“It’s difficult to comment on this terrible news, it will take time,” said Belgian federation president Tom Van Damme.
Editor’s note: The story is developing and will be updated.