Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt dies in crash during third stage of Italian cycling competition.
|Leopard Trek riders hold a minute of silence at the beginning of the fourth stage on Tuesday [EPA]|
Giro d’Italia competitors paid tribute to fallen Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt on Tuesday, following his death in a crash on the previous day’s third stage.
Cyclists, sporting black armbands, took part in a “stage of respect” for Weylandt after organisers ruled that the day’s placings would not count towards the race’s final result.
The 216km fourth stage from Genoa to Livorno was preceded by a minute’s silence with riders relaying each other at the head of the peloton. Weylandt’s Leopard Trek team were invited to cross the finish line in the lead.
Leopard Trek general manager Brian Nygaard added: “We will start Tuesday out of respect for the family Weylandt and also to share our grief with the world of cycling.
“The boys were totally devastated. If there is anyone who did not want to continue, we accept that.”
The 26-year-old Belgian crashed on Monday during a descent after clipping a wall during the third stage of the race and died at the scene despite medical staff trying to revive him for 40 minutes.
Race officials said his left pedal got stuck in a wall at the side of the road, forcing Weylandt to tumble around 20 metres to the ground below, and appearing to land heavily on his face.
On Monday, organisers said that there would be no music or festivities on the route and that the presentation ceremony would again not take place.
“It will be a day of mourning at the start and at the finish,” race director Angelo Zomegnan said.
|Weylandt won the same stage of the Giro last year [AFP]|
Britain’s race leader David Millar told reporters: “Wouter was a guy you thought would never die. It is a shock because he was so full of life.
“We have his best friend Tyler Farrar in the team and he’s going home tonight because for him it’s too much.
“It’s not a day for racing for position or for the white (finishing) line on the road. We’ve just got to finish the stage as quickly as we can and ride well out of respect for Wouter.”
The eight remaining members of Weylandt’s Leopard-Trek team and the leaders of the Giro’s four classifications lined up together before the start prior to moving off.
Weylandt was in his fifth year as a professional cyclist, and was due to become a father for the first time in September. His biggest wins were stage victories in the 2010 Giro d’Italia and the 2008 Tour of Spain.
Weylandt’s was the first fatality at the Italian race in 25 years.