Paris-Roubaix organisers ASO have named a pavé sector in memory of Michael Goolaerts, dedicating it with a memorial ceremony on Sunday. Family and friends of Goolaerts and members of his Veranda’s Willems-Crelan team attended the ceremony along with the local mayor and mayor of Goolaerts’ hometown.
The sector formerly known as Secteur Pavé Chemin de Saint-Quentin will now be known as Secteur Michael Goolaerts. As well as renaming the cobbled sector, a monument has been erected in his memory near the place where he fell.
Goolaerts died during this year’s edition of Paris-Roubaix after suffering a cardiac arrest on the second cobbled sector, between Viesly and Briastre. The 23-year-old was in just his second season as a professional with Veranda’s Willems-Crelan and had contested his second Tour of Flanders the week before, getting into the day’s early break.
Goolaerts was in the main bunch as the peloton began the cobbled sectors at Paris-Roubaix when a camera shot showed him lying on the ground, appearing to have crashed. An autopsy later confirmed that he had suffered a cardiac arrest prior to coming off his bike.
The team opted to race just a few days later at the Brabantse Pijl where a minute’s silence was held for Goolaerts. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) also dedicated his victory at the Belgian race to his compatriot. His funeral was held two weeks after his death.
The one-day race Heistse Pijl, which took place at the start of this month, renamed the award for the most aggressive rider the Michael Goolaerts Prize. The race is ridden in the hometown of Goolaerts, Heist-op-den-Berg, and passes 100 metres from his family home. The race was won by One Pro Cycling rider Emils Liepins.
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