When Martin suggested we use the RIP Wouter Weylandt obituary as our 2011 article in our ‘VeloVeritas looks back over our years‘ series it stirred memories of such a sad day.
It’s not something I’ve mentioned to many but on that day of despair I had been waiting to speak to Wouter at the Leopard-Trek bus before the race – but with the depart looming we had to vamoose and get a head start on the peloton.
Wouter was always good for a quote with smiles and good humour his trademarks.
I sometimes wonder that if we’d waited a little longer, met Wouter and spent even a few moments with him then perhaps it may have changed the whole dynamic of his day?
We’ll never know.
The finish that day was a sad place to be, no music and the usually motor mouthed race pundits struggling for words or crying, up on the stage.
A good looking super-fit young man on the Giro as part of a World Tour team, all so glamorous – this day reminded us of just how dangerous bicycle racing can really be.
Once we’d posted our piece there was none of our usual banter over our pasta; there was little to be done except raise a glass or two of grappa to the memory of one of the ‘Good Guys.‘
* * *
Wouter Weylandt tragically lost his life today, in a crash on the twisty, steep dangerous descent of the Passo del Bocco climb, about 12.4-miles from the finish of stage three of the Giro.
The briefest of pictures of the scene were shown on live TV before the broadcasting director wisely stopped showing any more, but that was enough to be able to tell that the situation was grave.
The Leopard-Trek rider quickly received emergency treatment at the scene of the accident from the race doctor, race emergency services and team doctors, where adrenaline and atropine injections were administered and cardiac massage carried out for more than half an hour but it wasn’t enough to save the 26-year-old.
His death was announced after the stage ended once his family had been contacted, and the: Giro organisers cancelled the podium ceremony.
Ed and I met Wouter in September at the Vuelta last year, in Gijon at the start of Stage 16 – he generously gave us lots of his time and we found him to be very easy to talk to; a funny, committed and ambitious chap.
Garmin-Cervélo’s David Millar will wear the leader’s jersey tomorrow, but said at the stage finish;
“I will wear the pink jersey tomorrow, but it will be in memory of Wouter, there is no celebration or glory, only sadness. I will discuss with Tyler, Leopard and the family of Wouter what we as a peloton will do tomorrow.
“Wouter in a way was Ty’s European brother, and the next few days are going to be very difficult for us, but for Tyler, and the friends and family of Wouter it is going to be a lifetime of loss.”
Tyler Farrar made Wouter’s home city of Gent his base after becoming a professional and moving to Europe, and he and Wouter soon became close friends.
Tyler issued this statement tonight, which sums it all up better than we ever could;
“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.
“Wouter was one of the kindest, funniest, and most admirable people I have ever had the opportunity to know and his death is a tragedy to his family, his friends, and to the sport as a whole.
“I can only convey my deepest of sympathies to everyone who cared about him as deeply as I did, especially his family, his friends, his team and his fans — we celebrate his life and morn his death in equal measure.
“Wouter was and is the soul of this sport we all love — an athlete who sacrificed himself for the better of many and a champion who celebrated each glory as a victory for his family, his team, and his friends and fans.
“I will remember him always, and will always strive to do him proud, as he has always done for the sport and people he loves.”
R.I.P. Wouter Weylandt.