Ex-world champ James Williamson dies at Cape Epic

Australian cycling journo could not be woken

An Australian journalist and former World Solo 24 Hour mountain bike champion has died while taking part in the Absa Cape Epic stage race in South Africa.

James Williamson, 26, editor of Enduro magazine and winner of the World Solo 24 hour mountain bike Championships in Canmore, Canada in 2008, was taken to hospital this morning after his riding partner, Shaun Lewis, could not rouse him.

Despite prolonged attempts to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead at 6.47am local time.

Williamson had not received any medical treatment during the race and fellow competitors said he was “perfectly fine” last night and had eaten well.

Sonja Güldner-Hamel, international media director of the CapeEpic, said: “James was a very enthusiastic mountain bike journalist who had expressed interest to ride the race over the last few years. 2010 was the year that he could fit it into his publishing schedule and he was thrilled to finally be participating in the race.

“After yesterday’s Stage 2 through singletrack paradise he was all smiles, repeatedly expressing how he enjoyed yesterday’s route. He’ll be deeply missed in the mountain biking media fraternity.”

Race director Kevin Vermaak expressed his most sincere condolences to James’s partner Nicky, his family and his riding partner Shaun.

Medical staff must decide whether to carry out a post mortem in South Africa or Australia. The body will then be repatriated to Australia. Williamson’s father, aunt and uncle are due to arrive in South Africa tomorrow.

Williamson was riding as part of the two-man team Swell - Enduro Magazine together with Lewis in the Cape Epic. The pair had finished 22nd on the race's second stage on Monday afternoon.

Williamson maintained his own website at jameswilliamson.com.au, and had blogged about the Cape Epic.

BikeRadar wishes to express its condolences to James Williamson's family and friends. 

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