On 9 May, Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt was descending along the Passo del Bocco, a steep mountain pass during stage 3 of the 2011 Giro d’Italia.
He looked over his shoulder to see where the riders pursuing him were and he lost control of his bike, crashing face down. It’s not been said how fast he was going, but around 60kph may be a good estimate. Medical staff tried to resuscitate him, although he had died instantly.
The tributes paid to him the following day were quite touching. The race carried on, but at a reasonably sedate pace – for those riders anyway! Each team took a stint on the front of the bunch before passing to the next. Even though there wasn’t any ‘exciting’ cycling to see, the roads were still jam packed with spectators not cheering, but just clapping and many of them holding up the number ‘108’ – the number Wouter carried during the race.
At the finish line, Leopard Trek, the team he rode for, went ahead of the other riders and crossed the line with their arms round each other’s shoulders. They even called forward Tylar Farrar from the Garmin team to join them. He lives in Belgium near to where Wouter lived and they were best friends.
That’s one of the things I like about cycling – the camaraderie. Even in the face of adversity, the guys rally round and help each other.
Wouter Weyalndt. 1984 – 2011. RIP.