LIVORNO, Italy (VN) – The peloton paid its due respects to Wouter Weylandt in an emotional tribute to the fallen Belgian rider, but promises to get back to the business of racing bikes in Wednesday’s fifth stage at the Giro d’Italia.
Tyler Farrar joined Leopard-Trek as the team led the way across the finish line arm-in-arm in an emotional end of the 212km fourth stage that was neutralized a day following the tragic death of Weylandt in crash in Wednesday’s third stage.
Tears were flowing from riders, fans and even a few cynical journalists as the peloton rolled into Livorno together. Race leader David Millar trailed across just ahead of the remaining riders in the bunch after the Scotsman decided to wear the maglia rosa to honor his fallen comrade.
All remaining eight members of the team later joined the four jersey-holders on stage for a moment of silence for Weylandt.
“He was a great teammate and a great man,” said Leopard-Trek rider Davide Vigano. “We wanted to this today for his family and for his memory. This was something beautiful that cycling could do. We were moved from the support of the fans lining the road.”
Fans packed the spectacular route along the Italian Riviera to cheer on the teams as they took turns riding at the front of the peloton.
Before the start, riders vowed not to challenge for the victory, but they also said they didn’t want to be baking in the hot Italian sun for seven or eight hours. The group came in just under six hours, averaging about 35kph during the stage.
The peloton agreed to award all prize money from the stage to Weylandt’s family.
Leopard-Trek vowed to stay in the Giro and race hard in Wednesday’s fifth stage in honor of their fallen teammate.
“We are staying in the Giro. We will continue to race to honor Wouter,” said Leopard-Trek general manager Brian Nygaard on RAI. “What the riders did today was something special. It was a beautiful way to pay tribute to a great rider and a great man.”
Farrar, who was Weylandt’s best friend and training partner in Belgium, has decided he will leave the Giro.