Cycling: Weylandt's team-mates withdraw from Giro
Published 11/05/2011 | 05:00
Yesterday's fourth stage of the Giro d'Italia was neutralised with all results discounted as a mark of respect to Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt who tragically lost his life in a high-speed crash on the previous stage.
Welyandt's Leopard Trek team-mates crossed the line together at the end of the stage, arms around each other and around Weylandt's best friend, US sprinter Tyler Farrar of the Garmin-Cervelo team, tears streaming down their faces after an emotional ride into Livorno.
A minute's silence was observed at the start in Genoa by the peloton in memory of the 26-year-old rider, who died instantly when he struck a wall on the descent of the Passo del Bocca just 25km from the end of Monday's third stage.
Members of opposing teams and race staff filed one by one into a cordoned-off area before the start yesterday to offer condolences to Woulandt's Leopard Trek colleagues, and all of the riders wore black armbands during the stage.
The decision to ride the stage was taken after consultation with Weylandt's family, who arrived in Italy overnight. "It was a very difficult situation," said Leopard trek manager Brian Nygaard.
"They were with the team last night and this morning, and it was a very sensitive time. I'm very proud of the boys that they were able to support the family at this time. It was very difficult."
Last night, Weylandt's team announced they will take no further part in the race and released a statement which read: "The riders of Leopard Trek wish to communicate that they will leave the Giro d'Italia as of tonight, following the tragic accident of their team-mate and friend Wouter Weylandt. This choice of the riders has the full support of the staff and management."