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Leopard Trek rider in fatal crash on descent from the Passo del Bocco

Today's third stage of the Giro d'Italia was overshadowed by a terrible crash that claimed the life of Wouter Weylandt of Leopard Trek on the descent of the Passo del Bocco. The Belgian was treated at the scene and Adrenaline and cardiac massage were administered, but it has now been confirmed that Weylandt died from his injuries. The thoughts of everyone here at road.cc are with his family, friends and team.

"Despite immediate treatment, there was nothing we could do", said doctor on the scene Giovanni Tredici; certainly the paramedics were at the scene very quickly. As a mark of respect to Weylandt there was no podium celebration.

After the stage Leopard Trek issued this statement:

""Today, our team mate and friend Wouter Weylandt passed away after a crash on the 3rd stage of the Giro d’Italia.

"The team is left in a state of shock and sadness and we send all our thoughts and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Wouter.

This is a difficult day for cycling and for our team, and we should all seek support and strength in the people close to us,"

In the race itself one Briton replaced another in the leader's pink jersey, as David Millar of Garmin Cervelo took over from Mark Cavendish after bridging across to the day's decisive break to claim second place on the stage. Yesterday's Maglia Rosa wearer Mark Cavendish (HTC Highroad) fell off the pace as he looked to suffer in the heat on the final climb of Madonna delle Grazie, and by the time he crested he was more than a minute down as fellow Manxman Peter Kennaugh of Sky pushed on at the front. Four riders – Vicioso (Androni Giacottoli), Lastras Garcia (Movistar), Moreno (Katusha) and Le Mevel (Garmin Cervélo) managed to break from the peloton on the descent to build up a 20-second lead.

David Millar shot from the peloton with 4km to go to try and breach the gap to the break and took just 1,500m to solo to the front group and join his team-mate Le Mevel, as the peloton appeared to have given up the chase settling instead for a sprint for sixth

Two more riders – Bram Tankink of Rabobank and Jerome Pineau of Quick Step – attempted to sneak across under the flamme rouge but too late, as Le Mevel tried to lead out Millar. Vicioso though came underneath him at the last corner to take the win ahead of the Scot.

Millar may not have got the stage but his clever ride did earn him the maglia rosa… that though paled in to insignificance as the news broke that Weylandt had been killed. The new race leader was simply handed the pink jersey after the stage finish. "It means nothing," the Garmin-Cervelo rider said. "I can't even imagine what his family are going through, it's terrible."

The riders were only told what had happened once the stage was done. Although medics battled to save him for 40 minutes at the crash site, it now seems clear from what witnesses have said that the Belgian rider probably died instantly when he fell.

As yet no cause has been found for what happened; some early reports suggest that Weylandt's left pedal may have locked or caught a wall, but so far there has been no confirmation of this. Any loss of control on such a fast, technical descent was likely to have potentially devastating results - that the peloton were hitting high speeds as they came off Passo del Bocco was evident by the fact that at times the motorcycles accompanying the race appeared to be having trouble keeping out in front of the lead group. There had already been a crash on a hairpin some 10km back up the descent.

While it will never be any comfort to Wouter Weylandt's family or team mates, or indeed all the riders in this year's race who will have to climb back on a bike tomorrow, deaths in professional cycling are mercifully rare given the risks involved. Fabio Casartelli was the last rider to die in a grand tour in 1995 when he was killed near the foot of the descent of the Col de Portet d'Aspet during stage 15 of the Tour de France. However today's events at the Giro once again underline the very fine safety tolerances within which cycling at the highest level operates.

No doubt their will be questions for the Giro organisers to answer regarding the safety of the race. This won't be the first time in recent years that such questions have been asked. Back in 2009 the riders protested about safety on the race when the Spanish cyclist Pedro Horrillo, then riding for Rabobank, broke his thigh bones, kneecap, and neck, and punctured a lung when he plunged 60 metres in to a ravine after crashing through a guard rail on a descent during stage 8. The crash ended his career as a professional cyclist.

Before this edition of the Giro had started some riders had already voiced concerns about some of the descents on the final mountain stages - with Alberto Contador asking, with one eye on what had happened to Horrillo, whether the organisers would be installing catch fencing on some of the hairpins.

In a dreadful coincidence tomorrow would have been the first anniversary of the biggest victory of Wouter Weylandt's career when he won stage 3 of last year's Giro d'Italia.

Top 20 Giro d'Italia Stage 3

1. Angel Vicioso Arco       AND  3:57:3   0:00 20"
2. David Millar             GRM           0:00   12"
3. Pablo Lastras Garcia     MOV           0:00    6"
4. Daniel Moreno            KAT           0:00
5. Christophe Le Mevel      GRM           0:00
6. Brak Tankink             RAB 3:57:50   0:12
7. Jerome Pineau            QST           0:12
8. Sach Modolo              COG 3:57:59   0:21
9. Fabio Tabore             AQS           0:21
10. Matteo Montaguti        AGR           0:21
11 Davide VIGANO Davide     LEO           0:21

12 Sergey LAGUTIN           VCD           0:21

13 Alessandro PETACCHI      LAM           0:21
14 Mikael CHEREL            ALM           0:21
15 Jan BAKELANDTS           OLO           0:21

16 Murilo Antonio FISCHER   GRM           0:21

17 Gerald CIOLEK            QST           0:21

18 Jackson RODRIGUEZ        AND           0:21

19 Matteo CARRARA           VCD           0:21

20 Inaki ISASI FLORES       EUS           0:21

Top 20 on General Classification after Stage 3

1 David MILLAR              GRM 10:04:29  0:00
2 Angel VICIOSO ARCOS       AND           0:07
3 Kanstantsin SIVTSOV       THR           0:09
4 Marco PINOTTI             THR           0:09
5 Craig LEWIS               THR           0:09
6 Christophe LE MEVEL       GRM           0:12
7 Alessandro PETACCHI       LAM           0:13
8 Pablo LASTRAS GARCIA      MOV           0:18
9 Yarosla POPOVYCHv         RSH           0:19
10 Tiago MACHADO            RSH           0:19
11 Philip Deignan           RSH           0:19
12 BramTANKINK              RAB           0:26
13 Jan BAKELANDTS           OLO           0:29
14 Vincenzo NIBALI          LIQ           0:31
15 Fabio SABATINI           LIQ           0:31 
16 Valerio AGNOLI           LIQ           0:31
17 Eros CAPECCHI            LIQ           0:31
18 Jussi VEIKKANEN          OLO           0:31
19 Michele SCARPONI         LAM           0:33
20 Murilo Antonio FISCHER   GRM           0:33

 

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

20 comments

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pjt201 [101 posts] 6 years ago
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That crash (or at least the result of it) looks really nasty. Fingers crossed Wouter's ok.

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Super Domestique [1619 posts] 6 years ago
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I was watching this afternoon with my wife, who never watches cycling tbh. (you can imagine the reaction)

Both of us were sad to see the horrific scenes and can only hope that wouter pulls through. I have a very bad feeling about this one though.

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madguern [25 posts] 6 years ago
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sorry to hear that Wouter has died, this brings home sometime how dangerous cycling at this level can be. My thoughts and sympathies go to his family

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Oh heck... [47 posts] 6 years ago
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I'm so sorry to hear of Wouter's death. I was watching the race and saw the aftermath of the crash.

I'm sure all our thoughts go to Wouter's family at home, and his team family.

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Super Domestique [1619 posts] 6 years ago
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Worst fears confirmed. Our sympathy to his family.

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Celeste08 [38 posts] 6 years ago
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Absolutely terrible news about Wouter. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends & team.

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timbola [248 posts] 6 years ago
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Absolutely shocked - all my sympathy is with his family and teammates.

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alexlnumber1 [49 posts] 6 years ago
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RIP Wouter, even sadder thing is he was going to be a father in September apparantly.....sad news.

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eddie11 [118 posts] 6 years ago
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that means Millar is in the pink jersey?

edit: just seen the sad news, my question doesn't seem that relevant now. sympathies for the family.

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seanieh66 [196 posts] 6 years ago
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Tomorrows stage will a very sombre one. RIP.

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TheBigMong [212 posts] 6 years ago
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This is heartbreaking.  2

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bboy12s [1 post] 6 years ago
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Absolutely tragic - words at this time fail me. Poor guy, poor family and poor team mates - you are all in our thoughts

rest in peace mo chara

bboy

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gazzaputt [232 posts] 6 years ago
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Tragic news. RIP Wouter,

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karpkg [9 posts] 6 years ago
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I saw my deepest nightmare today. My son is road racer too and my hart is squeezed whenever he's outside. Great support to Wouter's family.

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xcstu [113 posts] 6 years ago
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Tragic.... RIP fella

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TheHatter [770 posts] 6 years ago
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Terrible, terrible news. RIP.

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b8ramos [27 posts] 6 years ago
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May he rest in peace...

Just a suggestion... Since he won last years giro 3rd stage, why not name all giro's 3rd stage after him from now on.....

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Sarah_andthepus... [13 posts] 6 years ago
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This time last year, 3rd stage of the Giro he was a winner... it's very sad that a year later he wont have the chance to take another victory. I never knew Wouter Weylandt personally but from what I've read he was a very kind and funny man. We're all feeling this one and my thoughts go out to his wife, family and friends.

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onlyonediane [157 posts] 6 years ago
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Dreadfully sad news,my thoughts are with Wouter's family,friends and team.

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mb429 [73 posts] 6 years ago
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I still can't get the few seconds of close up footage there was on Wouter... I feel physically sick thinking about it, I can't imagine what his family are going through right now...