Professional Cyclist Dies in the Giro d'Italia
The world of professional cycling was rocked by the death of one of their own on Monday when 26 year old Belgian cyclist of the Leopard-Trek team died after colliding with a wall while descending a mountain about 25km from the stage finish in Rapallo.
Rider accounts say that Wouter Weylandt clipped either a pedal or handlebar on a wall on the left side of the road and was vaulted across the road where he struck another wall. Medics were able to reach him very quickly and began administering CPR within minutes. A helicopter was dispatched to take him to a nearby hospital, but the trees and hills on the descent made it difficult for the craft to find a landing spot.
Doctors and medics worked on him for nearly 45 minutes. They were able to get his heart restarted, but the injuries to his head were too much and he died soon after.
Reaction among his friends and colleagues was immediate. American cyclist Tyler Farrar of the Garmin-Cervelo team lived near Weylandt's home in Ghent and considered the rider one of his best friends and training partners. When he learned of the accident just after crossing the finish line, Farrar, in rage, threw his bike. Before putting into words his deep emotion: “I feel an unbearable sadness with the passing of Wouter. His death causes irreversible changes in my life but especially in the lives of his family and those who loved him,” the American sprinter said.
Later in the day, Leopard-Trek team manager Brian Nygaard issued a statement about the crash. "Today, our team mate and friend Wouter Weylandt passed away after a crash on the 3rd stage of the Giro d’Italia. The team is left in a state of shock and sadness and we send all our thoughts and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Wouter. This is a difficult day for cycling and for our team, and we should all seek support and strength in the people close to us."
The team decided on Monday evening decided that the best way to honor the fallen cyclist's memory would be to continue racing. The race resumed on Tuesday with a "neutralized" stage. The peloton will ride the stage at a slow pace, with each team taking 10 minute turns at the front before allowing Weylandt's team to cross the finish line first.