Leopard Trek Team to Stay in Race
May 10, 2011
Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt crashed in stage three of the Giro yesterday and died from his injuries.
The Leopard Trek team member was only 15 miles from the finish of the 107.5 mile stage in a technical descent on the Passo del Bocco when he looked back over his shoulder for his teammates, and struck a a guardrail with his pedal or bike frame, then catapulted across the road into a wall, according to several eyewitnesses.
As emergency workers rushed to his aid, other riders flew by unaware of the seriousness of his crash. Weylandt, 26, had injuries to his head and face and was bleeding. Within an hour he was declared dead, and taken to the morgue by ambulance.
“He was unconscious with a fracture of the skull base and facial damage; there was nothing the workers could do to revive him,” said Giovanni Tredici, the race’s chief medical officer, reported The Associated Press. “After 40 minutes of cardiac massage, we had to suspend the resuscitation because there was nothing more we could do.”
Angel Vicioso Arco riding for the Androni Giocattoli team had won the stage, with David Millar of Team Garmin-Cervélo still holding the overall Giro lead and pink jersey.
Post race activities scheduled in the arrival town of Rapallo were cancelled after news of Weylandt’s death traveled to the front of the peleton. It was the Giro D’Italia’s fourth fatality since the tour started in 1909, reported the NY Times.
Ironically, Weylandt won stage 3 in last year’s Giro.
Today the fourth stage of the Giro that travels 216 KM from Quatro dei Mille to Livorno is considered a medium mountain stage, but riders announced at the start that they would neutralize the stage.
Before the race began there was a moment of silence in the peleton as all the riders bowed their heads in quiet contemplation of their fellow rider.
Today Tyler Farrar, a good friend of Weylandt’s who has described him as a “brother,” announced that he would be leaving the Giro after the fourth stage was completed.
In a statement yesterday he said “I am unbearably saddened by the loss of Wouter today. As many know, he was my friend, training partner, and in many ways, another brother to me. His death marks an irreparable change in my life but more importantly, in the lives of his family and most loved.”
Other riders were similarly saddened. “Things like this shouldn’t happen. Absolutely sick to the stomach. My thoughts are with his family. RIP Wouter Weylandt,” wrote Mark Cavendish of the HTC- Highroad team on his Twitter page.
Similar statements of sadness were seen all over Twitter and the Internet, from Johan Bruyneel to Lance Armstrong, and the Leopard Trek official team website. However, the Leopard Trek Team said they will continue to race in the Giro this year.
Calls for safety are being bandied about in the press, and an investigation into the crash has been initiated by the tour organizers.
Meanwhile, some news outlets are recalling that rider Alberto Contador reacted negatively to the original announcement of the Giro d’Italia course, in particular stage 14 which he said should perhaps have nets placed on the side of the road to prevent rider injuries.
“I don’t know how we’re going to get down that. I don’t know if they’re going to repave it, or if they will put nets on the corners like on ski runs, because the drops there are trem
endous. All I know is that even in a car, the descent puts your hair on end. I only hope nothing unfortuna
te happens that day,” he was quoted saying.
The last time a professional rider has died in a major race was at the Tour de France in 1995 when Fabio Casertelli rode off the side of the road on the descent of the Col de Portet d’Aspet.
Weylandt’s girlfriend is five months pregnant with their child. A Facebook page honoring the fallen rider has already been established, with already more than 83,245 people showing their respect for the Belgian. Every 2 minutes, more than 30 people come to the site set up in his honor, many of them posting their wishes in Dutch.
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