CYCLIST Tijl De Decker has passed away following a training accident.
The 22-year-old represented the Lotto Dstny team and passed away following a crash near Antwerp.
De Decker was taken to Antwerp University Hospital for surgery following the accident and was later put into a coma.
The incident occurred on a public road where he crashed into the back of a car.
Police have opened an investigation.
De Decker is a former winner of the Under-23 Paris-Roubaix.
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He had spent the season riding with the Belgian team's reserves and he finished fourth in Sunday's National Championship race.
There was hope he would make the step up to the first-team next season.
Tributes have flooded in with Lotto Dstny, confirming his passing in an emotional statement.
It read: "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Tijl De Decker, following a training accident past Wednesday.
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"The team is heartbroken by this news and sends all of its love and thoughts to Tijl’s family and loved ones in this incredibly difficult time.
"Despite the best efforts of the staff at the hospital, Tijl couldn’t make it through and this morning he lost his battle.
"Please, Tijl’s family has requested privacy as they mourn their loss, and we kindly ask you to respect their wishes."
Team CEO Stephane Heulot said: "Tijl showed big progression this year and we believed in his growth margin. Stepping up to the pro team was a logical choice.
"Unfortunately, he will never turn pro and we will always remember him as a talented young rider and a warm and friendly person off the bike.
"We extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones, and our thoughts are with them during this difficult time.”
There was more messages from rival teams, INEOS said: "We're heartbroken to hear about Tijl and our thoughts are with his friends, family and everyone at Lotto-Dstny."
Moivistar added: "Lots of courage and support to his loved ones and team-mates. May he rest in peace."
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Fans also said: "Noo, terrible news, such a young life gone. Rest in peace."
A second commented: "Everytime to read something like this hurts so much. Rest in Peace Tijl and I wish all strength they need to his friends and family."
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