It is rare that I am emotionally touched by something I see on television… But this evening I was. What was I watching? I was watching cycling.
The Giro d’Italia is the more precise answer to that question. And an even more precise answer was, I was watching the highlights of Tuesday’s fourth stage of the Giro, where the peleton rode in honour of Wouter Weylandt. Weylandt died on Monday’s third stage of the race, after a high-speed accident.
The coverage of the fourth stage, broadcast on Eurosport 2, followed the Peleton as they paid their respects to their fallen colleague. Each team took their turn to race at the front of the pack to pay their respects, in a race that was agreed to be neutralised as a mark of respect.
The emotions amongst the riders and fans was extreme. Fans held the Weylandt’s number aloft along the streets of Livorno as members of the peloton were welling up. As the peloton reached the finish point in Livorno, Weylandt’s team, Leopard-Trek took to the front of the peloton, accompanied by the most sad sight of all, Tyler Farrar. The American rider Farrar was training partners and best friends with Weylandt. The tears streamed down the sprinters face as he struggled to hide his emotions.
Even the commentators struggled to hold back their emotions. As they told stories of Wouter, you could hear the sadness and pure emotion in their voices. You could hear them swallowing the lump in their throat as they announced the autopsy findings that he died on the impact of the collision.
As marks of respect go, this was great and was a fitting send off for the 26 year old. It shows how an entire community and country can mark the tragic death of someone who has been taken way before their time.