The world of cycling said goodbye to Wouter Weylandt Wednesday morning in a moving ceremony at the Saint Peter's church in Gent, Belgium. He was brought into the church by his Leopard Trek teammates, and many big names from the international cycling world were in attendance.
Weylandt died last week at the age of 26 as the result of injuries suffered in a crash in the third stage of the Giro d'Italia.
His white casket was escorted to the church at 8 am by six of his Leopard Trek teammates who rode in the Giro d'Italia with him. Fans were allowed in to pay a finale tribute before the invited guests arrived. They were given prayer cards featuring photos of Weylandt and text from his girlfriend An-Sophie, his parents and his sister.
Four photographs flanked his casket: one of him training this year, one of his victory in last year's third stage of the Giro d'Italia, one from the Tour of Qatar 2009, and a photo from Quick Step.
His family and many of the others attending wore pink scarves around their necks, similar to one which Weylandt wore in one of the last interviews he gave.
Thousands followed the services on large screens outside the church, with many fans wearing cycling kit. Hundreds of floral wreaths were stacked around the church as well.
Those attending included teammates Fränk Schleck and Fabian Cancellara, as well as Tom Boonen, Patrick Lefevere, Wilfried Peeters Eddy Merckx, and Belgian national cycling coach Carlos Bomans. A surprise guest was Angelo Zomegnan, the Giro d'Italia race director.
Tyler Farrar, a close friend, was also there. “He was crazy good,” he told sportwereld.be. “At first I found him the coolest rider in the peloton, but when I got to know him, I noticed immediately that he was the friendliest. "
Another good friend in attendance was Iljo Keisse. "I know few people with as many friends as you. Where you find the time to make everyone happy, I do not know. But you did it. Flamboyant, but with a golden heart. "