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Feb 18, 2015 – Belgium’s former world cycling champion Claude Criquielion died on Wednesday aged 58 following a severe stroke, the Alost hospital where he was being treated announced. A professional road racer between 1979 to 1991, his finest hour was winning the world championship rainbow jersey in 1984 at Barcelona.
He was hospitalised overnight Monday when he was described to be in a “critical condition” and never recovered. He nearly added a second title in 1988, at Renaix in his homeland, when he was leading a sprint finish down the stretch only to be knocked over by Canadian Steve Bauer which allowed Italian Maurizio Fondriest to go on and unexpectedly take the world title.
Criquielion, whose best finish in the Tour de France was fifth in 1986, also won the Belgian championship in 1990 as well as the 1987 Tour of Flanders, the San Sebastian Classic in 1983 and Fleche Wallone races in 1985 and 1989.
“My training ground wasn’t located in the Ardennes but on the much more hilly Flanders,” he liked to say to explain his success on “Flanders’ finest”. His biggest regret however ws not winning the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic despite three close shaves.
“They waited for me to retire to change the course so that it would finally end on a hill!”, Criquelion once told daily Le Soir. He later turned to a life in politics, notably as an assistant to the mayor of Lessines, and was responsible for sport.