Birmingham & Black Country

Vélo: Cyclist dies in Birmingham & Midlands bike ride

Vélo Birmingham & Midlands start line Image copyright Vélo Birmingham & Midlands
Image caption Seventeen thousand people signed up to take part in the race

A cyclist who competed in a 100-mile bike ride across the West Midlands has died.

The rider - a man in his 50s - had been among thousands participating in the Vélo Birmingham & Midlands bike ride on Sunday.

It is believed he came off his bike at around the 23 mile mark in Atherstone, Warwickshire Police said.

He was taken to hospital for treatment but later died. His next of kin have been informed.

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

Organisers tweeted they were working closely with the police to establish what had happened. The force has appealed for witnesses.

Sergeant Shaun Bridle said: "We are particularly trying to identify any cyclists who may have seen anything or who may have GoPro camera footage from around the time of the incident to please get in touch."

Vélo Birmingham & Midlands said the death was "incredibly sad", adding: "The rider's family have been informed and all our thoughts are with them at this difficult time."

Image copyright Vélo Birmingham & Midlands
Image caption Thousands of spectators lined the route
Image copyright Vélo Birmingham & Midlands
Image caption Coventry marked about 40 miles into the 100-mile route

A mare and her newborn foal also died as road closures meant a vet could not reach them, their owner said.

Helen van Heyningen said her horse Penny went into labour at about 09:30 BST on Sunday and died an hour later.

She said a Vélo security steward refused to let the vet access her farm in Norton Green Lane, Knowle, near Solihull.

The BBC has approached Vélo organisers for comment.

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
Image caption A shorter 42-mile challenge between Birmingham and Coventry was also available to participants this year

Mrs van Heyningen called the vet after the foal's back legs got stuck during the birth, but she said the vet was stopped from accessing the road because it had been closed for cyclists.

"We threatened to block the road with our horsebox because the mare was bleeding to death," she said. "I've never seen anything so awful in all my life."

Mrs van Heyningen said she was "devastated" and "appalled that they could let an animal suffer like that".

Penny was 21 years old and was used to breed horses for show-jumping.

Image copyright Helen van Heyningen
Image caption A mare and her newborn foal also died in the event

She was "part of the family", Mrs van Heyningen said, but she was also "not your average horse" - her offspring sell for up to £60,000.

"This is our livelihood," she said.

The event has been criticised for its road closures.

This year, residents in Birmingham said they felt "trapped" as main routes were closed to traffic, and the previous event in 2017 saw nails thrown over roads amid complaints about the closures.

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