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Vélo: Cyclist's death in Midlands bike ride 'incredibly sad'

Cyclists leaving start line in Birmingham Image copyright Vélo Birmingham & Midlands
Image caption Cyclists set off from the Birmingham start line at 06:30 BST on Sunday

Organisers of a 100-mile bike ride in which a cyclist died in a crash have described it as a "day of mixed emotions".

A man is his 50s was airlifted to hospital after falling from his bike about 23 miles into the Vélo Birmingham & Midlands ride in Atherstone, Warwickshire.

He suffered "significant head injuries" and later died.

Event organisers CSM Active said the death was "incredibly sad".

Seventeen thousand cyclists took part in the ride, which started and ended in Birmingham, taking in Coventry, Warwickshire and the Black Country.

Image copyright Vélo Birmingham & Midlands
Image caption Seventeen thousand people signed up to take part in the race
Image copyright Vélo Birmingham & Midlands
Image caption Coventry marked about 40 miles into the 100-mile route

The crash happened on Coleshill Road, a rural location with a steep downhill section with tight left and right bends.

BBC journalist Tom Warren, who was taking part in the ride and cycled along the road shortly afterwards, said he had seen several people being treated and bikes lying on the verge and in the road.

"As I approached a bend going downhill I saw a marshal and then heard shouts to riders to slow down because there had been a crash," he said.

"It was a pretty distressing scene and the marshals did a good job warning people before they rode down the hill, it must have been a very difficult situation to deal with.

"A few minutes afterwards I heard sirens and a helicopter."

Image copyright Google
Image caption Coleshill Road is a B-road in a rural location with a steep downhill section with tight left and right bends, police said

The cyclist came off his bike at about 07:45 BST on Sunday and suffered "serious injuries", West Midlands Ambulance Service said.

He received life support at the scene before being flown to hospital, where he later died.

His next of kin have been informed and Warwickshire Police is appealing for witnesses, particularly cyclists with GoPro cameras.

A second patient was also treated at the scene.

Ali Foster, from organiser CSM Active, said it was "a day of mixed emotions".

"Tens of thousands of spectators came to watch, 17,000 riders had a fantastic time. Obviously it was slightly overcast by the tragic news about the rider sadly losing his life," he said.

"It's extremely sad news - yesterday was a day of mixed emotions for us."

Image copyright Helen van Heyningen
Image caption The mare, called Penny, and her newborn foal also died

In Knowle, Solihull, horse-owner Helen van Heyningen said a mare and her newborn foal also died as road closures meant vet Jack Wallace could not reach them in time.

He told the BBC a steward would not let him through the road block for more than 20 minutes, and when he arrived the foal had already died and the mare was "undoubtedly suffering and thrashing on the ground".

"If I had been able to get to the foal in a timely fashion, there is a good chance I could have saved either the mare or foal," he said.

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Media captionHelen van Heyningen is angry over Vélo Birmingham mare and foal deaths

Organisers said they were "extremely saddened" to hear the news and had started an investigation.

A spokesperson said: "As soon as our event control team were alerted to the fact that a vet required access, we facilitated it."

Image copyright Vélo Birmingham & Midlands
Image caption Seventeen thousand cyclists took part in the Midlands bike ride

The ride has attracted criticism in the past for its extensive 100 miles of road closures.

Main roads in and out of Birmingham and Coventry city centres were closed, as well as a number of residential streets in Quinton, Harborne and Edgbaston.

Some residents in Birmingham said they felt "trapped" this year, and at the previous event in 2017 nails were thrown on roads amid complaints about closures.

Mr Foster said Vélo accepted "some individuals had challenging experiences", but organisers "worked hard" to cause as little disruption as possible.

A 72-year-old man from Northfield, Birmingham, was arrested on suspicion of assault after a steward was thought to have been "deliberately driven at" in Bromsgrove.

The incident, which happened on New Inns Lane in Rubery at about 11:30, is being treated as a "suspected road rage attack", West Midlands Police said.

The 59-year-old steward suffered a suspected fractured hip. The arrested man has since been released pending an investigation.

Image copyright Sarah Mills
Image caption A steward had to be treated after a suspected "road rage attack"

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