Tributes pour in to young Belgian cyclist who died during race (GRAPHIC IMAGES)

Tributes pour in to young Belgian cyclist who died during race (GRAPHIC IMAGES)
Tributes have poured in to 23-year-old Belgian cyclist Michael Goolaerts, who tragically lost his life after a crash during the Paris-Roubaix one-day classic on Sunday.

Goolaerts suffered a cardiac arrest after the smash during the 116th edition of the race, between Compiegne and Roubaix in France.

The rider, who was competing for Veranda's Willems-Crelan cycling team, received roadside CPR treatment while lying stricken after the crash with just over 150km of the race remaining. 

He was airlifted to hospital, where he later died. The news has sent a shockwave through the cycling world, and was met with great sadness from journalists, spectators, and Goolaerts’ fellow riders.

Willems-Crelan released a statement that read: “It is with unimaginable sadness that we have to communicate the passing of our rider and friend Michael Goolaerts.”

“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. For now there will be no further communication as we want to give his close ones time to deal with this terrible loss. We thank you in advance for respecting the privacy of his relatives.”

Reacting to Goolaerts’ death, Eurosport blogger Felix Lowe wrote: “Terrible, terrible news. Let’s remember Michael Goolaerts with this happy image, not the sickening ones people were sharing yesterday. Thoughts with his family, teammates and friends.”

Prominent cycling broadcaster Ned Boulting tweeted: “Just found out that young Michael Goolaerts lost his life on Paris Roubaix today. It’s terribly sad.”

“All the thoughts and prayers of the @BORAhansgrohe team and myself are with Michael Goolaerts. Such a sad news…,” three-time cycling world champion Peter Sagan said.