On Sunday, his biographer and Dutch media said that Lieuwe Westra, who was second to Bradley Wiggins in the 2012 Paris-Nice race, had died at age 40 after a lifelong battle with depression. Westra was a member of the Astana team in 2014, which helped Vincenzo Nibali win the Tour de France.
He won stages in both the Tour of Catalonia and the Criterium du Dauphine that year. Westra was known as “the Beast” for the way he rode his bike without stopping. On Saturday, his body was found at his business near the city of Enkhuizen in the northwest of the Netherlands.
“Lieuwe Westra, 40, died on Saturday afternoon,” his biographer Thomas Sijtsma tweeted. “Over the last few years the former rider fought a battle with himself and lost,” Sijtsma said, adding “Rest softly, Beast”.
Rip Lieuwe Westra pic.twitter.com/iezMU7Tpd2
— Maarten (@zuiderstorm) January 15, 2023
Westra was born in Friesland in 1982. In 2009, he went pro and joined the Vacansoleil team. The former road worker won the Tour de Picardie in his first year, and it was thought that he could become one of the great Dutch riders.
He won a stage of the 2012 Paris-Nice race, which was his first World Tour win. He finished second overall, behind Olympic gold medalist and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins. Westra also won the Tour of Denmark and the first of two national time-trial titles in the same year. He quit his job as a professional cyclist out of the blue in 2017.
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“Westra gave personal reasons for his decision. The previous autumn he admitted suffering from depression, partly due to a broken relationship, while he also doubted his existence as a professional cyclist,” the ANP national news agency said. In a biography published in 2018, Westra also said that he had used the controversial drug cortisone during his career.
“I injected it into my own body to be able to cycle faster, to win prizes and to get compliments,” Westra said in his book. “You need to seek the boundaries of what is acceptable if you wanted to compete with the big boys,” Westra said. Follow us only on Lee Daily for more news like this.