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Tributes paid after Cyclist Michael Goolaerts dies following Paris-Roubaix crash

Photo: PA

Tributes have been paid to Belgian cyclist Michael Goolaerts who died after suffering a heart attack during Sunday's Paris-Roubaix race.

The 23-year-old had been airlifted to hospital in Lille after receiving CPR at the roadside following a crash during the 257-kilometre race.

His death was confirmed by his Veranda's Willems-Crelan-Charles team in a statement.

It read: "It is with unimaginable sadness that we have to communicate the passing of our rider and friend Michael Goolaerts.

"He passed away on 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.

Credit: PA

"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."

Nairo Quintana, a previous winner of the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta, tweeted: "Upset about the death of Michael Goolaerts today in #ParisRoubaix. Strength to his family, friends and team."

Fabian Cancellara, a three-time winner of Paris-Roubaix, wrote on social media: "Terrible news.... RIP Michael Goolaerts. My deep condolences going to his family, friends, and Teammates and the @Snipercycling crew."

Alberto Contador, twice winner of the Tour de France, wrote on Twitter: "My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Michael Goolaerts, since the end of the race I have not stopped thinking about him."

Goolaerts was taking part in a race dubbed the "Hell of the North" because of the difficult terrain it covers when he was involved in the crash.

Peter Sagan, who went on to win the race, offered his own support via Twitter before it emerged that the Belgian had lost his fight for life.

He said: "All the thoughts and prayers of the @BORAhansgrohe team and myself are with Michael Goolaerts. Such a sad news."

Johan Bruyneel, former sporting director of the US Postal Service and Astana teams, tweeted: "RIP Michael Goolaerts. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends and teammates."

BMC, the team of fourth-placed finisher Greg Van Avermaet, tweeted: "The riders and staff of @BMCProTeam are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Michael Goolaerts. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and @Snipercycling at this incredibly sad time."

While Team Novo Nordisk added: "Our thoughts are with @Snipercycling and Michael Goolaerts' friends and family."

David Lappartient, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale, expressed the organisation's sadness at the tragic news.

He tweeted: "On behalf of the International Cycling Union and the cycling family as a whole, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family, team and loved ones of Michael Goolaerts, who left too early today. We share their immense sadness."