RAPALLO, Italy (VN) – David Millar won the pink jersey Monday, but he was in no mood to celebrate following the tragic death of Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt during the third stage of the Giro d’Italia.
Millar bridged across to join Garmin-Cervélo teammate Christophe Le-Mével in the winning breakaway and sprinted to second behind stage-winner Angel Vicioso (Androni) to earn time bonuses to slip into the race leader’s jersey.
Millar, however, was stunned to learn of the news of Weylandt’s death when he was told at the finish line. Speaking to VeloNews and two other journalists after the stage, he said the accident reveals just how dangerous cycling can be.
“It’s the unthinkable,” Millar said. “It’s probably a one and a million thing if you had to put a number on it. At the same time, it could happen on any corner or descent. The bottom line is, the guys who are here and racing are the best cyclists in the world, but the best can have a mechanical or can find themselves in the wrong place or the wrong time and have that happen. ”
That says that our sport is very tragic at times and it always has in the history, we get mixed up in a lot of silly things, politics, radios … The bottom line, it is a sport that has its risks.”
The tragic news overshadowed a big day for Garmin-Cervélo and Millar, who became the first British rider in history to hold the leader’s jersey in all three grand tours.
Millar said race officials gave him a pink jersey to try on, but the post-stage podium ceremony was canceled in the wake of Weylandt’s accident. He was ordered for standard anti-doping controls and returned to the waiting Garmin team car without the pink jersey.
Millar said his thoughts were with Weylandt and his family, however, and said he wasn’t sure if he would wear the pink jersey Tuesday because it wouldn’t do much to take away the pain and loss everyone is experiencing right now.
“I don’t think it will make a difference if I wear it or not,” he said. “(The crash) just reminds all of us of what our sport is about. Forget all the bull shit, this is what it’s like every day that we race. We get a lot of flack, but this is what we do.”
Millar said he was also worried about the reaction from Garmin-Cervélo teammate Tyler Farrar, who is best friends with Weylandt.
“I am not looking forward going back to the hotel because he’s Tyler’s best friend. I am honestly a bit concerned about how he is because he is an emotional young man,” Millar said. “He was so close to Wouter, it was like one of his brothers. It’s just horrible.”