An unsupported bike race across Australia has been cancelled after a leading competitor was hit and killed by a car on the outskirts of Canberra.
It’s believed British ultra-distance cyclist Mike Hall was killed on the Monaro Highway near Williamsdale on Friday morning following a collision with a car.
ACT Policing are yet to confirm his identity as authorities work to contact family members.
Hall was competing in the inaugural Indian Pacific Wheel Race from Perth to Sydney and was in second place at the time of the collision.
Emergency services were notified about 6.30am and the rider died at the scene.
— Chris Shue (@Chris_Shue) March 30, 2017
“The Indian Pacific Wheel Race has been cancelled with immediate effect in light of this morning’s tragic incident,” race organisers said in a statement on Friday.
“This is a difficult time for everyone involved, along with their families, and their well-being is our primary concern.” The organisers said they would cooperate fully with official investigations and “intend to undertake a detailed investigation of our own”.
The 5500-kilometre race started on March 18 in Fremantle and the leading rider, Belgium’s Kristof Allegaert, had been expected to reach the finish line at the Sydney Opera House later on Friday.
About 70 riders from around the world started the race with Hall and Kristoff the favourites.
Hall, 35, was one of the best ultra-distance riders in the world, having previously won the Trans Am Bike Race across the US and the Tour Divide traversing the Rocky Mountains from Canada to Mexico.
The British rider organised the Transcontinental Race across Europe which Allegaert has won three times.
The Indian Pacific Wheel Race, organised by Australia’s 2015 Trans Am winner Jesse Carlsson, was the first time Hall and Allegaert had gone head-to-head.
The showdown was being closely followed by fans across the world as the leaders approached Sydney.
They had been racing with very little sleep.
Hall revealed he was having problems with his vision in a recent video posted from the race route.
“It gets dark and all the glare of the light hitting the signage and road furniture just swirls around and blurs,” he said on the race’s Facebook page on Thursday.
“I’ve been thinking that I can’t stay awake because I’m just really tired. But it’s just the fact I can’t see in the dark properly – my eyes are nailed.”
Supporters on Friday posted tributes to Hall on social media and cycling websites.
“For someone to lose their life while undertaking what must be one of the greatest adventure challenges possible on a bike – tragic beyond words,” Nitro wrote on cyclingtips.com.
The driver of the car involved in the ACT incident is assisting police with their inquiries.
Crash investigators are piecing together the circumstances surrounding the collision and a report will be prepared for the coroner.