Olympian Kyle Bennett, a three-time BMX world champion and a pioneer in the sport, died in a car accident in Conroe, Texas, on Sunday, and the reaction from the world of cycling has been shock and sadness.
"All of us at USA Cycling were deeply saddened to learn of the tragic and untimely loss of Kyle Bennett," USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson said in a statement. "Kyle was a pioneer in Olympic BMX and an inspiration to those of us that knew him. He will be sorely missed, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones."
"The big man upstairs called this man home. I'm sure he knew that he was taking a legend and a idol from most of us," BMX racer Denzel Stein's statement said. "The game will never be the same. It's hard to even realize Kyle is gone. Forever miss and never forgotten Homie! Have some trails ready for us BMXers when we get there. RIP #KB88."
"Rest in peace to father, friend, Olympian, multi-World Champion, hall of famer, legend, and all around awesome person with such effortless style and flow, Kyle Bennett," fellow competitor Derek Betcher said. "I was always so inspired by watching you ride, and equally inspired by your humble personality. I'll remember all the good times, my friend. You'll be forever missed."
According to the Montgomery County Police Reporter website, Bennett, 33, died when his car left the road and hit a ditch and an iron gate. Bennett, who was not wearing a seat belt, is believed to have been killed instantly when he was thrown from the car.
Bennett was part of the first-ever U.S. BMX Olympic team in 2008. A favorite to win the gold medal, he failed to reach the medal round after dislocating his shoulder during a heat.
A three-time national champion in the National Bicycle League, he went on to win International Cycling Union world championships in 2002, 2003 and 2007.
Nicknamed "Butter" for his smooth riding style, Bennett was an enthusiastic advocate of his sport who dreamed of building a training center for young people.
"I would love for BMX to be a household name," he told the Houston Chronicle in 2008. "It's such an easy sport to get involved in. All you need is a bike, long pants, a shirt and a helmet."
You can watch video of Bennett competing in this year's BMX world championships above.