Sunday, December 16, 2012

Iñaki Lejarreta dies

Basque mountain biker Iñaki Lejarreta was killed on Sunday after being hit by a car while out training.

The 29-year-old was hit from behind by a car while riding on the N-634 road in Iurreta, Vizcaya, close to Durango. Efforts were made to revive the Orbea rider on the scene, but medics were not successful. A Renault Clio, with a 22-year-old resident of Iurreta at the wheel, is reported to have crashed into the rider at around 9:30 am, Lejarreta apparently riding westwards towards Bilbao. According to reports, the roads were virtually bereft of traffic (which is normal on a Sunday morning).

Watch a video of the scene here, including pictures of the car, the police, the smashed bike, cyclists despairing and the body covered by a white blanket.

Iñaki Lejarreta Errasti, road legend Marino's nephew and former road pro Ismael's son, hailed from the area, and has been one of Spain's standout cross-country riders for the better part of a decade. He got his big break by winning the junior mountain bike world championships in Vail, Colorado, in 2001, and went on to represent his team at World Cups in the proceeding years and his country at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. He was also a double champion of the Copa de España, and has World Cup podiums to his name.

Only a month and a half ago, the likeable Lejarreta told this website that he was considering changing disciplines for the upcoming year, as the folding of Orbea's mountain bike team had left him scrambling for a job in 2013. As it turned out, he stayed in the blue of Orbea to the very end.

To read a short biography, click here. Check out his complete palmarès here. For the Spanish Federation's statement, click here.

BiciCiclismo are honouring Iñaki by gathering all Tweets concerning his passing here, under the title "The cycling world mourns the death of Iñaki Lejarreta". Worth a read.

Lejarreta's passing naturally follows hot on the heels of Euskaltel rider Víctor Cabedo suffering a similar fate in mid-September. People are taking to Twitter in their masses to say farewell to Lejarreta, as well as condemning the safety of cyclists in Spain. Former Cervélo pro Óscar Pujol perhaps summed up everyone's feelings when he tweeted "I'm saddened at the news of Iñaki Lejarreta. Another car, another cyclist. I send my sincere condolences to his family".

Watch an interesting interview with Iñaki and Marino below:


Stephen said...

That is so horrible, it just makes my blood turn cold to see those images, so sad for his family.

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