The world of professional cycling has been reacting to the shocking death yesterday of Wouter Weylandt on the descent of the Passo del Bocco during stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia. The young Belgian sprinter whose girlfriend is expecting their first child rode for Leopard Trek. Both they and his former team, Quick Step, issued statements of condolence as did many others, but probably the most poignant was from his close friend and training partner, the Garmin Cervelo rider, Tyler Farrar.
"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."
Within minutest of the announcement of Weylandt's death Leopard Trek issued a statement on their website.
"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,"
His former team, Quick Step who Wouter rode for between 2004 – 2010 and for whom he scored his biggest victory his win at stage 3 at last year's Giro, also paid tribute.
"On behalf of the entire Quick-Step Cycling team our hearts go out to Wouter’s family, friends and the colleagues of Team Leopard, in this sad, sad time. For all of us, Wouter was a friend before he was a colleague. We remember him as an honest man, always available with a smile on his face and forever generous towards the next guy. Wouter leaves us with a terrible sense of loss and unbearable grief. We want to remember him with arms held high, crazy with joy after a victory, like the one at Middelburg last year. This is the image of him that all of us will carry in our hearts forever."
Many riders used Twitter to express their feelings about their colleague's death, here's just some of them…
bradwiggins Bradley Wiggins
Days like this put this great sport we love into perspective, Wouter rest in peace now mate, thoughts are now with the family and freinds!
MarkCavendish Mark Cavendish
Things like this shouldn't happen. Absolutely sick to the stomach. My thoughts are with his family. RIP Wouter Weylandt.
mcewenrobbie Robbie McEwen
Devastated. Wouter Weylandt
taylorphinney Taylor Phinney
Say it ain't so... Wouter, you were kind and gracious to me every day at Tour of Oman. You will be very dearly missed.
GeraintThomas86 Geraint Thomas
Horrible news about Wouter!! Thoughts with his family, friends and team mates!! RIP mate
Johan Bruyneel, the Radioshack director sportif, who himself narrowly escpaped death when he crashed in to a ravine on stage 7 of the 1996 Tour de France set out his feelings on the death of his young compatriot in his blog.
"I didn't know Wouter very well. Our interactions were based around a friendly hello in the hotel or a nod of the head. But it doesn't matter if you are Tyler Farrar (Wouter's best friend) or Wouter's Leopard-Trek roommate or someone like myself or simply just a fan of the sport - we are all filled with pain and sadness today. The cycling community and Wouter's family and friends are in mourning."
You can read the full piece at johanbruyneel.com/blog
It is not yet known whether Leopard Trek will take any further part in the race, but if precedent is anything to go by they will be on the start line tomorrow in a stage the riders plan to neutralise as a mark of respect - usually in such cases the team mates of the rider killed ride at the front for the last part of the race. Race director Angelo Zomegnan said during yesterday's post race press conference that "We will respect whatever decision the riders and Wouter's team, Leopard-Trek, will take,"
In another grim coincidence to set alongside tomorrow being the anniversary of Wouter's win at last year's Giro, Zomegnan told this afternoon's press conference that the Giro had already planned to commemorate the eight cyclists killed near Lamezia Terme last December when the race passes close by the town during stage 8. "Now, sadly, we have to pay homage to one more rider,"
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.