Kenyan cyclist Sule Kangangi died in a crash on Saturday while competing in a gravel race in the U.S. state of Vermont.
Kangangi was riding at high speed in the Vermont Overland race when he crashed.
“Sule is our captain, friend, brother. He is also a father, husband and son,” his Team Amani said in a statement posted on social media.
“Gaping holes are left when giants fall. Sule was a giant.
“Instead of leading us at the front of the pack, he will now lead us as our guiding pole star as we press forward in the realisation of his dream.”
Rachel Ruto, the wife of president-elect William Ruto of Kenya, said she was shocked to learn of Kangangi’s death after the crash.
“My heartfelt condolences to his family, and the entire cycling community, that has lost a talented cyclist, a mentor and a friend,” she wrote on Twitter.
“We will all miss him as an individual. Kenya has lost a champion. Rest in peace Sule.”
The Vermont Overland is a 59-mile dirt road bicycle race that includes nearly 7,000 feet of climbing.
About 900 cyclists were competing on Saturday in the race that begins and ends in the community of Brownsville in the town of West Windsor, officials said.
“Vermont Overland is heartbroken by the tragic death of Suleiman ‘Sule’ Kangangi during The Overland yesterday,” Ansel Dickey, owner of Vermont Overland, said in a statement on Sunday.
“He was a kind friend and an inspiring and heroic athlete to his teammates and the gravel cycling community at large.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, his friends, Team Amani, and the people of Kenya who are mourning his loss today.”