It is heart-warming to see the way the cycling community has pulled together following the tragic death of Wouter Weylandt when he crashed during the third stage of the Giro d’Italia on Monday.
Thousands of well-wishers have supported the foundation set up by Weylandt’s team Leopard Trek to provide financial support for the Belgian rider’s family, and donations can be made by following this Facebook link
The International Cycling Union has given its full support and invites the whole cycling family to participate in honour of the memory of the 26-year-old rider who died in such tragic circumstances, leaving behind his pregnant girlfriend Sophie Anne, who is due to give birth in September.
Weylandt fell and suffered fatal head injuries with 25 kilometres remaining of the 173-kilometre third stage of the Giro d’Italia, from Reggio Emilia to Rapallo. He was knocked unconscious and even though medics were instantly on the scene to give him cardiac massage at the scene they were unable to revive him.
1992 Olympic Gold medal cyclist Chris Boardman spoke for everyone who loves the sport when he he said he was shocked by such a ‘tragic’ accident. But Boardman, who was watching the event live when the incident happened and described the footage as ‘incredibly graphic’ and ‘horrific’ reflected the thoughts of many when he said he does not believe safety in professional cycling needs addressing.
UCI president Pat McQuaid says cycling’s governing body will investigate bike safety and “discuss with the industry the rigidity and safety aspects of bikes.”
But he conceded when “racing against nature all of the time” there was very little that could be improved. “We will make sure we are not making bikes which cause problems themselves. But they [the teams] understand there is a limit to what you can do to a bike.”
Weylandt was the first rider killed in a crash in one of cycling’s three main tours since Italian rider Fabio Casartelli in the 1995 Tour de France. He is the fourth cyclist to die during the Giro and the first in 25 years. Orfeo Ponsin died in 1952, Juan Manuel Santisteban in 1976 and Emilio Ravasio in 1986.
McQuaid said: “Cycling is touched by a lot of controversy but one tends to forget that they go out everyday and risk their lives, going down the mountains at the speeds they go down.
“We see a lot of crashes in cycling and a lot of injuries but very rarely do we see a fatality and here we did. It’s such a sad situation for a 26-year-old, so so tragic.”
CYCLING WORLD STUNNED BY RACE DEATH OF WOUTER WEYLANDT
Following Monday’s tragic death of Wouter Weylandt at the Giro d’Italia, the number 108 which he wore during the race is destined to assume a special significance in the cycling world. Now, a T-shirt is available bearing those three digits that will allow you to pay tribute to the 26-year-old Belgian, while benefiting the fund that his team, Leopard Trek, have set up to provide support for his family including his girlfriend and the unborn child he will never know.