Retired Dutch pro Lieuwe Westra dies age 40
Longtime Vacansoleil and Astana racer helped pilot Vincenzo Nibali to Tour de France title and scored 13 victories of his own.
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Retired Dutch pro Lieuwe Westra has died at 40.
The news was confirmed Sunday morning by his biographer Thomas Sijtsma.
“Lieuwe Westra passed away on Saturday afternoon. The former cyclist fought with himself in recent years and lost,” Sijtsma wrote. “Rest in peace, beast.”
Westra retired at the start of 2017, citing depression. He has since suffered difficult years that included divorce and the sale of the cycling hotel he developed with his former wife.
He was found dead Saturday in Zwaagdijk, the Netherlands. The cause of death has not been confirmed.
Zaterdagmiddag is Lieuwe Westra (40) overleden. De voormalig wielrenner vocht de laatste jaren met zichzelf en verloor.
Rust zacht, Beest. pic.twitter.com/hsVgWZQQNJ
— Thomas Sijtsma (@ThomasSijtsma) January 15, 2023
Nicknamed “The Beast,” Westra raced with Vacansoleil and Astana through his 11-year career and scored 13 victories through the turn of the last decade.
Stage wins at Paris-Nice, Tour of California, and Critérium du Dauphiné highlight his palmarès alongside GC victories at Tour of Denmark and the Driedaagse De Panne. The Mûnein-born powerhouse also helped pilot teammate Vincenzo Nibali to the yellow jersey at 2014 Tour de France.
After his retirement, Westra published a no-stone-unturned biography, Het Beest, in which he recalled his instances of doping.
Tributes from the pro cycling world have already begun pouring in, including from former teammate Johnny Hoogerland.
“Lieuwe my friend. What happened to you all the last years. We are so terribly sad that your life ended already today. I’m very sorry that we could not help you more. Will never forget what you did for me when we were teammates,” Hoogerland wrote. “Find your rest above us.”
So sad and difficult to read this news. Rest in peace Lieuwe. https://t.co/8AUM4XNVKo
— Koen de Kort (@koendekort) January 15, 2023
RIP ♥︎ Lieuwe .
— STEVEN DE JONGH (@stevendejongh) January 15, 2023
Sterkte aan familie en vrienden. Rust zacht Lieuwe. https://t.co/ZCR2PZdjUj
— Sven Nys (@sven_nys) January 15, 2023