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.”
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.