The Giro d’Italia will start today in Quarto dei Mille near Genova without Belgian Wouter Weylandt. The 26-year-old of team Leopard-Trek died yesterday on the descent of the Passo del Bocco.
The race’s doctor, Giovanni Tredici answered questions after the stage and later in the evening, sent out a medical bulletin.
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Tredici explained that he found Weylandt “lying lifeless in the middle of the road” on his back with “severe frontal fracture … collapse of the facial bones.”
Weylandt, it was reported, had been looking behind and clipped his bike against a wall. It caused him to crash face first.
“When we came by, he was lying in the road,” Sky’s sports director, Sean Yates told Cycling Weekly. “We knew it was not good when we passed.”
Yates was part of team Motorola when Italian Fabio Casartelli died at the 1995 Tour de France. He fell on the descent of the Portet d’Aspet.
Four riders have died due to crashes in the Giro d’Italia’s 94 years. Spain’s Juan Manuel Santisteban was the last who died on the road in 1976. Italian Emilio Ravasio crashed in 1986, lapsed into a coma and died two weeks later.
After the 60-metre, near-death fall of Pedro Horrillo two years ago in 2008, Giro organiser RCS Sport beefed up its medical team.
“We had the best supplies there, but it’s never easy in a stage race,” said race director, Angelo Zomegnan. “After Horrillo, we added two extra ambulances.”
“There was nothing unusual about that stretch [where Weylandt crashed], but it’s just the law of averages, isn’t it? When you have 180 guys screaming down the mountainside on two pieces of thin rubber, sooner or later you’ll crash. 99 times out of 100, no one gets hurt, 999 times out of 1000, no one dies.”
The doctors preformed CPR and, trying to revive him, injected 15mg of adrenalin and 3mg of atropine. Due to the blood loss, they transfused 4000ml of crystalloid, such as normal saline.
“This continued for over 45 minutes, waiting for the helicopter from Genova that we had alerted,” added Tredici. “When the doctor arrived, he ascertained the uselessness of the efforts to reanimate the rider and certified his death at approximately 5pm.”
“It’s not every day someone you know, on your team or in your family dies,” Yates said. “It’s harsh, but that’s life, it’s harsh sometimes.”
Yates and his Motorola lead a neutralised stage the day after Casartelli died. Lance Armstrong led the group over the finish line in Pau. A similar period of mourning is expected today on the 216-kilometre stage to Livorno.