AN IRISH athlete has died after a collision in a cycle race in Gloucestershire.
Junior Heffernan, 23, who represented Ireland at numerous international events, was involved in a collision with a car on the third lap of the 41st Severn Bridge Road Race near Olveston on Sunday.
Mr Heffernan was living in Yelverton, Devon.
“This is a tragedy which will profoundly sadden everyone associated with cycling in this country. My thoughts are with Junior’s family and with his friends,” said British Cycling president Brian Cookson.
A spokesman for the British Road Club, which organises the event, said: “This is an awful tragedy.”
Writing on his internet blog, Ride With The Heff, on Friday before the weekend’s racing, Mr Heffernan said he was about to compete with his new team for the first time.
He wrote: “This will be my first race alongside members of my new team, Team Herbalife-Leisurelakesbikes.com, proper racing! Plus my new kit arrived this week from Santini.”
People from the world of cycling have been paying tribute to Mr Heffernan, known as “the Heff”.
The cyclist was one of the first members of Triathlon Ireland’s Junior Elite programme and Triathlon Ireland have sent their condolences to his family.
“Junior’s death is a huge loss and we are deeply saddened to hear the news” they said.
The race in Gloucestershire features laps of a 6.6 mile circuit, and is described as one of the country’s leading and longest-running early-season road race events, dating back to the 1960s.