‘One of the good ones’: Teen cyclist killed in road tragedy

 

A RISING young star of the Cairns cycling scene has been identified as the victim of a horrific fatal crash while training for an upcoming competition.

Gordonvale cyclist Luke Azzopardi was riding along the winding Lake Morris Rd at Kanimbla when he was struck by a car about 6.10pm on Wednesday.

The 19-year-old was declared dead at the scene, with police investigating the cause of the crash.

The woman who was driving the car was also just 19 years old.

Mr Azzopardi was a former state cycling champion and had been earmarked as a rider to watch over the coming years.

Luke Azzopardi was a former state cycling champion. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN
Luke Azzopardi was a former state cycling champion. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN


The Cairns Post interviewed Mr Azzopardi in 2016, when he was just 16 years old and training eight to 10 hours per week - and up to 15 hours in the lead-up to competitions.

The tall, respectful young man competed in all types of races including time trials and criteriums but said the road race was "definitely" his preferred event as it "requires as much mental dedication as it does physical".

Luke Azzopardi competes in a Cairns Cycling Club cyclocross race. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS
Luke Azzopardi competes in a Cairns Cycling Club cyclocross race. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS

"The unpredictable nature and constant changing of tactics makes it exciting," he said at the time.

"Each event offers a different set of challenges and suits a different style of rider.

"My presence of hills means that the road race is somewhere I can fell I can make an impact."

The young cyclist said he hoped to race professionally in the future but recognised the immense level of dedication and hard work it would take.

Rising cycling star Luke Azzopardi, 19, (front) has been killed after a car hit his bike on Lake Morris Rd in Kanimbla. PICTURE: SUPPLIED
Rising cycling star Luke Azzopardi, 19, (front) has been killed after a car hit his bike on Lake Morris Rd in Kanimbla. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

"Professional riders sit a world above others and as much as I would like to get there, it is not always possible," he said.

"If I was given the opportunity, I would definitely take it."

Beyond the competitive nature of the sport, it was the freedom of riding that Mr Azzopardi really loved.

Luke Azzopardi (centre) was a rising star of cycling. PICTURE: SUPPLIED
Luke Azzopardi (centre) was a rising star of cycling. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

"It gives me the ability to escape for a couple of hours and be by myself," he said.

"It gives me time to think and clear my mind.

"The challenges it presents and the good pain it produces is also something I enjoy.

"The ability to go for an hour ride up the Gillies (Highway) and then fly down faster than the cars in less than half the time makes it worthwhile."

An investigation into the crash is ongoing. PICTURE: SUPPLIED
An investigation into the crash is ongoing. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Townsville cyclist Stephen Lane has took to social media on Thursday morning to pay tribute to the young man.

"I find this news incredibly hard to say," he wrote.

"Last night at around 6.10pm, an incredibly talented young junior in Cairns named Luke Azzopardi was killed in a training accident.

He was a dedicated cyclist and earmarked as a rider to watch over the coming years. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS
He was a dedicated cyclist and earmarked as a rider to watch over the coming years. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS

"Luke was an incredibly liked young man, tall in stature, calm in nature but fierce in riding skill and talent. "I knew Luke and I know his friends and club very well.

"News of Luke's accident will be a complete shock to the cycling industry in general but it will be devastating to those who knew him, especially those of the Cairns Cycling Club.

"On behalf of this page and all it's members, I pass on our sincere condolences to Luke's family, his Girlfriend Madi, his friends, and to all those at the Cairns Cycling Club.

"It is a tight knit club and they are all very close and friendly.

"Luke, may the wind forever the at your back. You were one of the good ones mate."

Originally published as 'One of the good ones': Cairns teen cyclist killed in road tragedy



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