TRIBUTE has been paid to a talented sportswoman after she died in a bicycle racing collision with a van.
Officers have not officially identified the rider who died near Raglan on Thursday evening (June 2), but tributes have been paid to mother-of-two Rebecca Comins, a member of the Monmouth Triathlon Club and Newport Phoenix Cycling Club, who was also Caldicot RFC. Rescuer and masseur of the 1st XV.
A 46-year-old man from Abergavenny has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving following the accident on the A40 dual carriageway.
Police have appealed for witnesses who were driving on the road before the collision, which happened during a Monmouthshire Wheelers time trial.
All-around sportswoman Rebecca, 52, from Caldicot, has represented Great Britain in her age group in triathlons, was vintage veteran champion in the Welsh Triathlon Super Series and has also raced for Chepstow Harriers and Caldicot Running Club.
The road was closed between the Hardwick roundabout in Abergavenny and the Raglan roundabout for around nine hours after the crash, which happened shortly after 7pm.
The tragic incident came nine years after a male cyclist racing on the Abergavenny Cycling Festival route suffered fatal injuries in a head-on collision with a van at the Hardwick roundabout.
Paying tribute, Phil Tilley of the Monmouth Triathlon Club said: “Rebecca (Beckie) was admired as an incredible athlete who set high standards in her training and results.
“We will miss her very much and remember the support she gave to other athletes. At events she was always there to cheer you on and as a member of the club, always offering her help where she could.
“Beckie was also a great advocate for our aquathlon and went out of her way to support the organization and running of the event.”
Caldicot RFC posted: “The committee, players and members are saddened to learn of the tragic loss of Rebecca Comins.
“Beckie made a huge contribution to the club as our first sports masseuse and first aid worker.
“Our condolences, sympathy and best wishes go out to Steve, George, Millie and their family.”
Newport Phoenix CC posted: “All committee members, riders and family members of Newport Phoenix Cycling Club are saddened by the tragic loss of our club member, Rebecca Comins (Beckie).
“She was the soul of the club and always thought of others before herself. A true professional on and off the bike and a smile that would light up any room.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Stephen, George and Millie at this tragic time.”
Monmouthshire Wheelers’ Simon Williams posted on Sunday: “Due to the tragic circumstances of the past week, we have made the decision to cancel our time trials until further notice out of respect for Rebbeca and her family.
“Our hearts go out to Becs’ family at this very sad time.”
Rebecca, who worked for Aneurin Bevan Health Board and lived in Caldicot, won the women’s title in the 15-mile Cardiff 100 Miles TT cycling time trial over the same stretch of road in February.
The cyclists had entered Thursday’s race after meeting at the Hardwick restaurant at 7 p.m.
A Gwent Police spokesperson said on Thursday evening: ‘We are appealing for witnesses following a road crash on the A40 near Raglan at around 7.20pm on Thursday 2nd June.
“Officers attended and the collision involved a bicycle and a van – a white Vauxhall Movano.
“Paramedics from the Welsh Ambulance Service also attended the scene and confirmed that the cyclist, a woman… had died at the scene.
“His relatives have been informed and are receiving support from specialized officers.
“A 46-year-old man from the Abergavenny area has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by reckless driving and remains in police custody.
“The A40 is currently closed between the Hardwick roundabout and the Raglan roundabout in both directions.
“Anyone with information about the collision is asked to contact us.
“We are asking anyone who may have witnessed the collision or any motorist with a dash cam who was using the A40 between 7pm and 7.30pm and between Abergavenny and Raglan to contact us.
“You can call us on 101 or direct message us on Facebook or Twitter, quoting log reference 2200184652 with full details. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
A person who responded to Gwent Police’s message about the crash said: ‘Time trials are held weekly in the summer on this route and full safety assessments are carried out.
A poster who described himself as a retired policeman said he passed the cyclists around 7 p.m. and there were “warning signs placed at the start of the dual carriageway”.
“The bikes were well lit and very clearly visible up to a mile away, even in broad daylight, thanks to the flashing taillights…”
He had seen them “standing on the underside of the track about a meter from the white line marking the edge of the carriageway.
“Throughout the entire nine mile route I saw no more than six runners and all traffic moved into the right hand lane very responsibly so as not to endanger the runners…
“They didn’t ignore traffic rules and didn’t cause any problems for other road users…none were driving abreast.”