Giro d’Italia: Peloton remembers Wouter Weylandt in neutralised fourth stage
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Giro d’Italia: Peloton remembers Wouter Weylandt in neutralised fourth stage

by Ben Atkins at 12:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results
Processional stage pays tribute to Belgian sprinter

Leopard Trek teammatesThe fourth stage of the Giro d’Italia, between Genoa Quarto dei Mille and Livorno, was neutralised throughout its entire 216km length in order that the peloton could pay its respects to Wouter Weylandt. The Belgian sprinter died as a result of serious head injuries as he crashed on the descent of the Passo del Bocco during yesterday’s stage.

Weylandt’s Leopard Trek teammates ceremonially led the peloton over the finish line in the Tuscan port but, since the stage was neutralised, there was no result to the stage.

The peloton left Genoa’s Quarto dei Mille slightly ahead of time, having first observed a minute’s silence; the eight remaining members of the Leopard Trek team stood in line in front of the rest of the peloton, with the four jersey wearers behind them.

After having taken second in yesterday’s tragic stage, David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo) took the maglia rosa. With it he joined the pantheon of riders who have held the lead in all three Grand Tours, but there was no celebration from the British rider, whose teammate Tyler Farrar was one of Weylandt’s closest friends.

“I will wear the pink jersey tomorrow, but it will be in memory of Wouter,” Millar said in a statement through his team last night.  "There is no celebration or glory, only sadness. I will discuss with Tyler, Leopard-Trek and the family of Wouter what we, as a peloton, will do tomorrow.”

What did happen was a pre-arranged procession around Italy’s beautiful coastline: from Liguria, through the spectacular Cinque Terre around the city of La Spezia, birthplace of Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD), to the beauty of Tuscany and the port of Livorno itself.

So as to ensure that the peloton observed a sufficient pace to make it within a reasonable time frame, and to make sure that no one team bore and excessive burden, every team in the race, besides Leopard Trek, led the peloton for 10km; this had been specifically arranged by race director Angelo Zomegnan lastnight.

Every team performed its 10km to perfection, with even the protected riders of the race – sprinters and general classification riders alike – taking their turn, with everybody anxious to do his bit in the memory of Weylandt. The usual crowds were out in force, and maybe there were a few more out there today, with everybody applauding respectfully as the peloton cruised past.

In Italy they understand their cycling, and what the riders go through to entertain them.

With 10km to go Farrar, Millar and the rest of the Garmin-Cervélo team moved forward to take the peloton the rest of the way into Livorno, and, with 4km remaining, the Leopard Trek team came to the fore.

The black, blue and white riders rode side by side for the remainder of the course with Farrar, as Weylandt’s closest friend, taking the Belgian’s place in the line as the ninth man; every man’s face was a picture of emotion, but none more than the American.

In the last 50 metres the line of nine men put their arms across each others shoulders and crossed the line to the applause and cheers of the substantial crowd; Millar led the rest of the peloton over the line.  Contrary to usual practice, the two Leopard Trek team cars, which had been driving side by side at the head of the race convoy, were not directed down the usual diversion, but continued on to the finish line.

Since there was no result on the stage, the race will recommence tomorrow for stage five with the classifications exactly as they were at the end of yesterday’s stage.

Standings after stage 4
1. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Cervélo
2. Angel Vicioso (Spa) Androni Giocattoli-CIPI @ 7s
3. Kanstantin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad @ 9s
4. Craig Lewis (USA) HTC-Highroad
5. Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Highroad
6. Christophe Le Mével (Fra) Garmin-Cervélo @ 12s
7. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-ISD @ 13s
8. Pablo Lastras (Spa) Movistar @ 18s
9. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) RadioShack @ 19s
10. Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack


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