29-year-old Andrei Kivilev, a leading light of the Cofidis team, died this morning after a collision with another rider on the Paris-Nice race yesterday. His death was caused by a fractured skull. He wasn't wearing a helmet. Pro cyclists will now be under greater pressure to wear helmets in those countries that currently do not require competition cyclists to wear them. And such a death is also likely to be used as 'evidence' for helmet compulsion for all cyclists.

Death of pro-rider may lead to calls for helmet compulsion

The 29-year-old Kazakh rider – who finished fourth in the Tour de France in 2001 – died the day after a crash, near Saint-Etienne, on the second stage of the Paris-Nice road race. The race continues, although the Cofidis team led a go-slow tribute to their team leader today.

Kivilev is the first cyclist to die in competition since Spanish sprinter Manuel San Roma in the Tour de Catalunya in 1999. He leaves a six-month-old son, Leonard.

The Cifidis team’s sporting director, Francis Van Londerseele, said at a press conference: "We’re all shocked. We all regret [the fact] that Andrei was not wearing a helmet at the time of this fall."

Whether a helmet would have saved him is unclear: he landed on his face. Nevertheless, pro helmet campaigners will soon latch on to this sad episode.

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