Kazakh star killed
Cofidis leader Kivilev dies after Paris-Nice crashPosted: Wednesday March 12, 2003 5:59 AM
Updated: Wednesday March 12, 2003 12:06 PM
SAINT-ETIENNE, France (Reuters) -- Cyclist Andrei Kivilev died Wednesday after a crash during the second stage of the Paris-Nice race on Tuesday had left him in a coma.
The 29-year-old Kazakh, leader of the Cofidis team, sustained serious head injuries in a fall following a collision with another rider around 40 km from the finish of Tuesday's stage between La Clayette and Saint-Etienne.
He had not been wearing a helmet and went into a coma immediately.
Kivilev underwent surgery at the Saint-Etienne hospital overnight but his state worsened and he died in the early hours of the morning.
He is the first cyclist to die in competition since Spanish sprinter Manuel San Roma in the Tour de Catalunya in 1999 and leaves a six-month-old son Leonard.
"We're all shocked," the Cofidis team's sporting director Francis Van Londerseele told reporters Tuesday night.
"This accident reminds us just how dangerous this sport is. We all regret (the fact) that Andrei was not wearing a helmet at the time of this fall."
The cause of the accident is unclear but Kivilev appeared to get caught up with another rider before being catapulted head first over his bicycle onto the road.
The Cofidis team's doctor Jean-Jacques Menuet told Reuters that Kivilev had fractured his skull on the left of his forehead and suffered cuts to his face and haemorrhaging in the nasal duct.
Excellent in the mountains, the Kazakh finished fourth in the Tour de France in 2001.
Kivilev lived in nearby Sorbiers, very close to where he suffered his accident.
He came to France in 1997 with his friend and compatriot Alexandre Vinokurov, joining the amateur Saint-Etienne team before turning professional the following year with Festina.
Kivilev moved on to the AG2r Prevoyance team in 2000 and Cofidis in 2001.
Armstrong mourns 'unique' rider
PARIS (Reuters) -- Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong mourned the death of Andrei Kivilev after a crash in the Paris-Nice race, saying the Kazakh cyclist was unique.
"I'm devastated," said Armstong. "He was our kind of man. Consistent, tough, hard-working, and a very cool dude.
"Andrei, I'm gonna miss you, my friend.
"I will look for you at the base of every hard climb I do now, and I will wish with all my heart that you were there to 'light it up' or 'open it up' like you have done so many times in the past."
"I came to know Andrei quite well over the years and really admired him and his style," Armstrong said on his Web site.
"Andrei was unique, you see -- he was smart, he was perfectly fluent in English (which I suspect is not normal for a young Kazakh) and man, was he aggressive.
"I loved to race with him because you knew when he was in the race, and when the road went uphill, he would lay it all out. Man, was he an attacker! He helped me more then he (or anyone) will ever know -- and now he's gone."
British rider David Millar expressed shock at the death of one of his Cofidis teammates.
"I am just in shock, it's horrendous, unfair and just wrong," Millar told his Web site. "He was a lovely guy and a new dad and I'm just gutted. Shocked and gutted. Everyone was saying last week that it couldn't get worse for Cofidis. I just kept saying to everybody and meaning it, 'it can always get worse' - sad truth..."
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