Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt died during stage three of the Giro d'Italia on May 9 2011. Riders and fans take to social media to mark the five-year anniversary

May 9: Five years ago today, Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt lost his life after crashing during stage three of the 2011 Giro d’Italia.

Professional riders, teams and cycling fans alike have paid tribute to Weylandt, posting messages via social media.

The number that Weylandt wore during the 2011 Giro at the time of the incident – 108 – has been permanently retired, and no longer features on the start list.

Former Giro race director Michele Acquarone said in 2012: “His number 108 is no longer in the race, which means he’s always in the race.”

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Weylandt was 26 years old when he died, at the point that many riders reach their peak in the sport. The year before he died, Weylandt had won stage three of the 2010 Giro to add to his first Grand Tour win: stage 17 of the 2008 Vuelta a España.

Weylandt fell on the Passo del Bocco descent as the stage travelled from Reggio Emilia to Rapallo. He reportedly clipped a wall and subsequently crashed, landing heavily on his face.

The following day’s stage was neutralised as his Leopard-Trek team-mates led the riders, before the entire team withdrew that evening. All podium celebrations were cancelled.

The close-knit professional cycling community was deeply affected by the incident.

  • The Awakening

    The allure of cycle racing, carries with it the risk of death at any time. It is so easy to forget the risks, that the professional racing cyclists are taking.

    Having just read the report posted in Cycling Weekly dated the 9th May 2011 and the readers comments, it is hard to imagine the horror and heart ache that happened that fateful day, when Wouter Weylandt was so cruelly taken from the peloton and lost his life.

    For those of us, that just survive numerous close calls, when just riding our bikes on the roads, when a very experienced professional cyclist, Wouter Weylandt loses his life in the Giro, then we must be humbled that, “We are still here!”

    Remembering and not forgetting Wouter Weylandt.