THE third stage of the Giro D’Italia was overshadowed by the death of Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt following a horrific crash on Monday.
The 26-year-old Leopard-Trek rider suffered fatal injuries during a high-speed fall roughly 25 kilometres from the end of the Reggio Emilia to Rapallo stage.
Paramedics tried to resuscitate Weylandt for 40 minutes but he was declared dead at the scene.
The tragedy came almost exactly a year to the day after Weylandt won the third stage of the 2010 Giro D’Italia.
Isle of Man rider Mark Cavendish, who had gone into the day’s stage as the pink jersey holder, was one of many cycling stars to pay tribute to the Belgian cyclist.
Speaking on his Twitter account immediately after the race, the Manxman said: ‘Things like this shouldn’t happen. Absolutely sick to the stomach. My thoughts are with his family. RIP Wouter Weylandt.’
Fellow Briton David Millar, who took over the pink jersey from Cav following his second place finish, said his result pales into insignificance in wake of the tragedy.
The Scott commented: ‘It means nothing. I can’t even imagine what his family are going through, it’s terrible,’
Cavendish’s fellow Manxman Peter Kennaugh, making his debut in the grand tour, finished in a large group of over 100 riders who crossed the lined 21 seconds down on the stage winner Ángel Vicioso while Cav, who twice had to change bikes because of mechanical problems, finished 3min 20s back.
A minute’s silence will be held before today’s (Tuesday) stage from Genova to Livorno and, as is tradition following a death in a race, the riders will complete the stage at a slower pace before allowing the deceased rider’s team-mate come to the front of the pelaton for the final kilometre of the race.