I made a promise to myself yesterday that I would write my blog and update you on what has been going on, my thoughts on the season so far and what my expectations of the Giro were. My notes were about a great classics season, some stunning performances and about breakaways going the distance. But late afternoon yesterday that all changed. I am not working at the Giro this year so as usual when I am not commentating, I was keeping my eye on the stage as I went about other work, looking forward to the run in to the finish.
When the footage of Wouter Weylandt was shown on the screen, I felt sick. As commentators, we are used to seeing the falls of riders and know they get up, and generally quickly. It was evident that something was seriously wrong and now we know what the outcome was.
Cyclists excite us with the way they race across all terrain. Dressed only in lycra and with a thin piece of rubber holding them to the road, they make bike racing seem effortless. We forget how dangerous this sport is, they are true athletes in every sense.
I couldn't write yesterday. I wondered why Wouter Weylandt's death made me feel how it did. Today I know why.
He was a young rider. He rode most of the time selflessly for his team leaders. But when he got the chance, he loved to be in the moves and on the attack.
Although I only met him a couple of times, I realised that in hours and hours of commentary, we had spoken about him many times. I went back to my race notebooks of this year and found his name written on the pages, recording him being on the attack as we talked about him on screen. On one page I found him on the attack in Kuurne Brussel Kuurne, fittingly the name written above his was his best friend Tyler Farrar.
The last time I spoke to Wouter was 2 days before Paris Roubaix at the Leopard trek press conference in Kortrijk. He was looking forward to doing what he did best; helping Fabian Cancellara and Stuart O'Grady to be at the front in the cobbled classic. He was courteous, articulate and a real professional. He answered my questions ahead of the race with a sense of humour and gave me time to ask what I needed for my commentary.
With stage wins in the Giro and the Vuelta, he was developing as a great rider. He was taken too soon, doing what he loved doing - racing his bike. We will miss talking about him.
Wouter Weylandt RIP.
Thanks for reading,