Michael Goolaerts fell from his bike and suffered cardiac arrest on the second cobbled stretch of the race that is also known as “The Hell of the North”. He was resuscitated at the scene before being flown by helicopter to a hospital in Lille.
In a statement released late on Sunday evening, Michael Goolaerts’ Veranda's Willems-Crelan team wrote: "It is with unimaginable sadness that we have to communicate the passing of our rider and friend Michael Goolaerts. He passed away Sunday evening at 22:40 in Lille hospital in the presence of his family members and loved ones, who we keep in our thoughts. He died of cardiac arrest, all medical assistance was to no avail”.
"For now there will be no further communication as we want to give his close ones time to deal with this terrible loss. We thank in advance for respecting the privacy of his relatives”.
Shortly after the news was confirmed messages of condolence flooded in from dozens of other cyclists. The President of world cycling’s governing body UCI David Lappartient too offered his condolences to the rider's family.
"On behalf of the Union Cycliste Internationale and the cycling family as a whole, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family, team and friends of Michael Goolaerts, who left us too early today. We share their immense sadness," Mr Lappartient wrote on Twitter.
Michael Goolaerts turned only professional in 2017. He rode in support of cyclo-cross world champion Wout van Aert. His most significant result this season was 20th at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Sunday was Michael Goolaerts’ first ever Paris-Roubaix race.