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The world of professional cycling has been rocked by the tragic death of coaching legend Heiko Salzwedel, who had a massive impact in Australia.
The 64-year-old from Germany died in a Berlin hospital after a short illness.
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Salzwedel came to Australia from East Germany in the early 1990s and was the driving force behind the creation of a professional road team that would be crucial to the careers of riders such as Robbie McEwen.
Australian cycling greats such as Pat Jonker and Kathy Watt have paid tribute to the coaching legend.
Jonker, who finished 12th at the 1996 Tour de France, said Salzwedel created a pathway for himself and many other riders.
Watt, the 1992 Olympic road race gold medallist, said the German was a major backer of women's road cycling.
"He was a person with great strength of character and good humour who fully supported the athletes he worked with," Watt said.
Salzwedel was also a maverick figure and he had a falling out with the Australian cycling federation in the late '90s.
He returned to Europe and worked with the British, Danish and Russian national programs.
Tributes have been flooding in for Salzwedel from around the world.
Commentary legend Phil Liggett tweeted: "So shocked and saddened this morning on hearing of the passing of the legendary German coach, Heiko Salzwedel.
"We met in 1990 and then watched him developed champion after champion across the World. The quiet man who got results. RIP my friend."
So shocked and saddend this morning on hearing of the passing of the legendary German coach, Heiko Salzwedel. We met in 1990 and then watched him developed champion after champion across the World. The quiet man who got https://t.co/YfUVwDgvTK my great friend.
— Phil Liggett (@PhilLiggett) September 30, 2021
Saddened to read the news that Heiko Salzwedel had passed away …
Great coach ..
who’s left us with some Great memories ..
Was a pleasure working with you @ Team 🇬🇧 #rip ❤️ https://t.co/qQ0Rk9YZwW
— Russell Downing (@RussDowning) September 30, 2021
Sad to hear about the passing of Heiko Salzwedel RIP. I remember being in his flat many years ago at deansgate on a silly high floor which had an amazing views of Manchester and joking about cycling. Always a gentleman and funny.
— Alistair Rutherford (@mralibongo) September 30, 2021
Everyone at British Cycling is deeply saddened by the death of Heiko Salzwedel.
He is fondly remembered by so many riders and staff, and we're sending our thoughts and sympathies to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/r6jdoS1Hd3
— British Cycling (@BritishCycling) September 30, 2021
I was there that glorious record night for Brad... Heiko Salzwedel was there too. He was always there for so many riders from multiple nations. A truly great coach throughout a remarkable time in cycling. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude. He will be mightily missed by so many pic.twitter.com/MXNi8OOwyY
— Carlton Kirby (@carltonkirby) September 30, 2021
Very sad, not only did I rate Heiko Salzwedel as one of the worlds best cycling coaches, but he was a top bloke as well. Met him at a conference in Leeds. I asked what was his secret, and he said, always learning, which is the smartest thing any person can do! pic.twitter.com/Xh7SHn1x3A
— Hamish Ferguson (@CoachFergie) September 30, 2021
The man in the middle had a bigger influence on Australian cycling than many in 2021 would fully appreciate.
Without Heiko Salzwedel, our sport would be entirely different in Australia now.
Heiko is no longer with us, but his legacy very much remains.
(I'll share stories soon.) pic.twitter.com/B1bBdSAgRI
— RIDE Media (@ridemediaHQ) September 30, 2021
It has been very sad to hear of the passing of Heiko Salzwedel. He worked & influenced many riders & coaches at GBCT🇬🇧 & around the world. @BritishCycling sends our condolences to all who knew him. pic.twitter.com/C2SUcNCf4l
— Stephen Park OBE (@StephenParkOBE) September 30, 2021
RIP my friend. Devastated that Heiko Salzwedel, a man who taught me a great deal about coaching has passed away. He felt like a father figure, not just to me, but to some very special bike riders too. I’ll be having a wee dram in his honour tonight. pic.twitter.com/9TInJXQcyh
— Andy Kirkland Ph.D. (@andykirkland71) September 30, 2021
Australian cycling calendar rocked by race cancellations
Meanwhile, Australian cycling's upcoming summer calendar has taken another hit, with the Herald Sun Tour cancelled on Friday.
The Herald Sun Tour confirmation comes a day after the Santos Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race put their events on hold because of COVID-19.
Like those two events, it will be the second year in a row that the Herald Sun Tour has had to cancel.
The men's and women's Herald Sun Tour were due to be raced in February.
Health and safety requirements and strict international border restrictions forced the hand of the Victorian event, Australian cycling's oldest stage race.
"The unpredictability that COVID-19 brings to our event presents too many challenges for us to proceed next year," Herald Sun Tour chairman Tom Salom said.
"In particular, the quarantine restrictions that come with COVID made it very difficult to attract the best international riders."
AusCycling confirmed on Thursday that the road nationals in Ballarat will go ahead as planned, from January 12-16.
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