Belfast Telegraph

Tragic Giro d'Italia rider's best friend touched by Belfast Telegraph tribute

By Amanda Ferguson

Giro d'Italia riders have been left touched by Belfast Telegraph coverage of the cycle race that featured an image of the late Wouter Weylandt.

Our special pink Giro d'Italia supplement to welcome the Grande Partenza – or Big Start – of the world's toughest cycling race included a front page action photograph of Weylandt, who was tragically killed during the 2011 race.

The 16-page guide was published last Thursday and carried the headline 'Benvenuto Giro d'Italia'. It showed Weylandt on his bicycle with his arms outstretched in stage victory.

American Team Garmin-Sharp cyclist Tyler Farrar, who was the late racer's best friend, was so moved by our use of the sportsman's image that he brought the newspaper back to Italy with him when the 200-plus professional riders left Ireland last week – and he has subsequently requested additional copies.

On May 9, 2011, Weylandt, a Leopard-Trek rider from Belgium, fell while descending at high speed about 15.5 miles from the finish of the third stage of that year's race from Reggio Emilia to Rapallo.

The 26-year-old lay motionless as paramedics tried to revive him for at least 40 minutes using CPR and cardiac massage.

"Despite immediate treatment there was nothing we could do," doctor Giovanni Tredici told Italian television at the time.

"He died from a fracture to the front of his skull. We arrived at the scene 30 seconds after the crash. We tried for 40 minutes to resuscitate him."

Weylandt, whose partner was pregnant with their first child at the time, was the fourth cyclist to die during the Giro and the first in 25 years.

Marya Pongrace of Slipstream Sports said this newspaper's coverage of the 2014 Giro and the welcome people across Northern Ireland gave the riders during the Grande Partenza had been overwhelming. "Thank you so much," she said.

"And thanks to all of Belfast for an incredible start to the Giro! We were amazed and honoured by the support and fans."

Following the race on May 9-11 at locations between Belfast, Armagh and Dublin, the annual event has now moved to Italy.

The Giro ends in Trieste on June 1 with podium celebrations for this year's maglia rosa (pink jersey) winner.

Background

The Belfast Telegraph featured an image of late Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt on our front page to welcome the Giro d'Italia riders to Northern Ireland. Team Garmin-Sharp riders were so moved by the action image of Weylandt they have requested copies to have as keepsakes.

Mr Weylandt died during stage three of the Giro d'Italia in 2011. The Leopard-Trek rider fell during a descent about 25km (15.5 miles) from the finish of the stage from Reggio Emilia to Rapallo.

The 26-year-old lay motionless as paramedics tried to revive him using CPR and cardiac massage.

He died from a fracture to the front of his skull.

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