Tuesday, May 10, 2011

R.I.P - Wouter Weylandt

Wouter Weylandt was 26 years old

Cycling lost an upcoming star yesterday in the most horrific way possible. Wouter Weylandt, of Team Leopard-Trek, was thrown 60 feet down a cliff when his brakes locked up on a downhill run in Stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia.

Teammates, wife and best friend superstar Tyler Ferrar are inconsolable. Tyler abandoned the race to go home and grieve over the loss of his friend whose death was witnessed by numerous people.

In fact, the entire Team Leopard Trek has gone home, as of today.

The riders of Leopard-Trek wish to communicate that they will leave the Giro d'Italia as of tonight, following the tragic accident of their team mate and friend Wouter Weylandt," the team said in a statement.

Today's stage:
As expected, today's 134 mile stage to Livorno at the Giro d'Italia was neutralized in honor Wouter Weylandt, who died during yesterday's stage. In a sport replete with symbolism and reverence to the past, today's stage was logically ridden to commemorate the passing of the Leopard-Trek sprinter, with riders in the peloton wearing black armbands in his honor. Much of the way that today's stage unfolded relied heavily on the input of race leader David Millar (Garmin-Cervelo), again underscoring the symbolism and pageantry that exists within professional cycling.

The overwhelming response from riders and fans around the world, the Italian tifosi who lined the roads holding Weylandt's race number, as well as the messages of support painted on the roads underscored the fact that cycling is not simply a sport, but a community. A community that transcends boundaries, language or any other potential barrier.

It's for this very reason that even on the darkest of days, cycling is a beautiful and inspiring sport. One that unites people from all over the world, and one that is full of meaning and importance beyond that of merely racing a bike. It's with this in mind that tomorrow's stage will no doubt show how the riders' competitive spirit will persevere as they tackle what promises to be a tough and picturesque stage.

Team Leopard-Trek bow their heads for Wouter at the start of Stage 4

Wouter, leaves behind a young wife, 5 months pregnant with the couple's first child.

Gone but not forgotten

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