Cyclist’s tragic death clouds Gary Hand’s debut

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Lothians cyclist Gary Hand faces an emotional debut for his new club Herbalife Leisure Lakes Bikes near Chester tomorrow.

The Livingston-based rider, who has moved from the Pedal Power Team this season, is set to contest the 56 mile event alongside several of his new team-mates. However, they will line up in sombre mood seven days after a colleague, Junior Heffernan, was killed while competing in the Severn Bridge Road Race.

Investigations are continuing into the incident in which the 23-year-old was fatally injured. Hand, who is among the riders supporting an online petition promoting measures that will lead to improved safety during road races, said on his Twitter account, “Junior Heffernan friend and team mate. Absolutely tragic news. RIP I am lost for words.”

British Cycling chief executive Ian Drake issued a statement yesterday saying: “At this difficult time it is worth remembering incidents of this kind are very rare in road racing and this is the first death in decades and in tens of thousands of races.

“We are working with the police and all those involved to understand the circumstances behind this tragic incident to help inform our continued work to safeguard our members.”