In bright, if slightly chilly, Danish sunshine this morning, the peloton of the Giro d’Italia remembered Wouter Weylandt, who died on stage three of the race the year before, and Jan Trojberg, the mayor of the start town of Horsens, who died suddenly on Sunday.
Watched by hundreds of onlookers in a central square, helmets were removed and riders stood in silence for a minute’s silence, followed by a brief replay of the television broadcast of Weylandt’s victory in stage 3 of the Giro in 2010, then a short burst of one of his favourite pieces of music.
Riders from the RadioShack-Nissan team, which fused with Leopard-Trek, Weylandt’s squad, at the start of this season, stood at the front of the pack, alongside Weylandt’s close friend Tyler Farrar. With Weylandt’s family also present, a message of condolence was read out by the Giro management. Then following some brief applause, the pack moved off.
“It’s good to remember Wouter, ” said Farrar’s team-mate Chistian Vande Velde, who was wearing a narrow black bracelet with the words ‘In Memoriam Wouter’ engraved on his wrist. “He was a funny guy, a nice guy. We should appreciate what he did in his life.”
“I’ve worn this bracelet since they were given to us on the Tour of California last year, there’s not a day goes by that I don’t think about him.”
“The older you get the more you appreciate the dangers of racing. But we’re not going to dwell on it when we’re racing, that’s when bad things happen, you just have to do your own race, and reflect later.”
“It’s good to digest this tragedy, life goes on and we’re here to race, but we should not forget about it,” added Frank Schleck.
“When I heard the news, you can imagine how bad we felt. Something you never forget. Of course it’s hard, there’s no words to describe it.”
“My best memories of Wouter are him racing. He was a great friend and a great team-mate.”
“It’s logical and right to have a ceremony like this when a rider dies, above all because of the way it happened,” added Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez, fifth in last year’s Giro.
“Cycling isn’t that dangerous a sport, and that’s why when accidents like this happen, they have such a huge impact.”