Wouter Weylandt at the start of the Kuurne Brussel Kuurne in Februrary 2011. © Cindy Trossaert
Born in Ghent, Belgium in 1984, Wouter Weylandt was tragically killed after a high speed crash on 9 May 2011 during Stage Three of the Giro d'Italia. Weylandt hit a low concrete wall as he descended the Passo del Bocco at speeds estimated at around 45 mph, catapulting him across the road. Despite almost immediate medical assistance he was pronounced dead at the scene.
David Millar, who held the maglia rosa at the end of the stage, issued a typically eloquent statement the same evening: 'I love cycling, and I've always been enchanted by the epic scale of it all, it was why I fell in love with it as a boy. Yet Wouter's death today goes beyond anything that our sport is supposed to be about, it is a tragedy that we as sportsmen never expect, yet we live with it daily, completely oblivious to the dangers we put ourselves in. This is a sad reminder to us, the racers, what risks we take and what lives we lead.'
The following day's stage of the Giro was not contested by the competing teams, all of whom took it in turn to ride at the front of the peloton in a sombre yet moving tribute to their fallen comrade, The stage finished poignantly when Weylandt's teammates from Leopard Trek rode the final few kilometres, crossing the finishing line with Tyler Farrar of the Garmin Slipstream team, a training partner and close friend of Weylandt, joining their line.
As a mark of respect, Stage 3 of the 2012 Giro will be dedicated to Weylandt, an acknowledgment not only the number of the stage on which he lost his life a year ago, but also the Stage in the 2010 Giro where he took his second Grand Tour stage win.
In a further mark of respect for the Belgian, the organisers of the Giro have permanently retired his race number - 108 - from the Giro.
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