Weylandt had recently joined the Leopard Trek Luxembourg squad founded by Andy and Frank Schleck (among others)
In light of today's tragedy; Wouter Weylandt's of Leopard Trek's loss of life- I'd like to examine the history of Giro D'Italia and specifically Stage 3.
Anyone who saw the live video of Weylandt's crash got that sick feeling in their stomach. The vids were out on youtube for a bit, but were quickly taken down. I for one am glad, because the images were too graphic to be out there for the public, especially considering he has his first child on the way and leaves behind a heartbroken girlfriend, a child who will never know its father, and a devastated team.
Unfortunately I saw the images of Weylandt immediately after the crash on Universal Sports. It was pretty obvious that Wouter was dead at the scene. The folks in charge of the race did not release any details. I am guessing because they were fearful that news of a fatal crash may cause anxiety and result in more crashes on the twisty, technical descents of the final kilometers.
Apparently, from what I have been able to surmise; as Weylandt was in the descent he looked over his left shoulder. Typically a cyclist will tend to drift towardsthe side he is looking- in this case left. On the left were barriers. Weylandt must have clipped a barrier and then his velocity and trajectory sent him flying into what looked like a cliff face/ rock face on the right.
The video I saw showed a rider sprawled motionless on the ground. Wouter's arms and legs were in positions that are not humanly possible. When the camera focused on his face and head I knew it was a fatal crash. His helmet appeared to be embedded into the front of his skull and his face was an unrecognizable, obviously severely broken and traumatized mess. Literally his facial features were not going to be repairable, let alone survivable.
They showed another shot from the heli where Giro Doctors were giving him CPR. But, as one Giro doctor says, "there was nothing we could do for him."
My heartfelt condolences go out to Weyland't family, team and unborn child. The man was 26-years-old and ironically won the 2010 stage 3 of the Giro D'Italia.
Stage 3 of the Giro has also been unlucky if not fatal for other pro cyclists. Christian VandeVelde of Garmin Cervelo crashed out of the third day of the Giro in both 2009 and 2010. This year he decided not to tempt fate and is home in Chicago right now. His hopes are for the TdF. Smart move.
Cyclists who have died in the Giro D'Italia
1952- Orfeo Ponsin RIP
1976 -Juan Manuel Santisteban RIP
1986- Emilio Ravasio RIP
2011- Wouter Weylandt RIP
The race coordinators knew the course was extremely technical and probably anticipated crash(es). Not that I ever could- but you could not pay me enough money to ride the Giro D'Italia. Its organizers do not seem to be concerned enough (in my opinion) about rider safety. Yes, we all want to see a good race, but no one likes seeing riders on the ground with broken bones, broken bikes, or dead.
I imagine the peloton will have some type of memorial during today's stage. In the meantime- Giro coordinators- maybe you want to rethink the unnecessary risks you put the riders in.
RIP Wouter Weylandt