Giro d'Italia - Farrar leads stage four Weylandt tribute

Tue, 10 May 17:01:00 2011

American Tyler Farrar, the best friend of Wouter Weylandt, rode alongside the Belgian sprinter's Leopard Trek team-mates in an emotional conclusion to a neutralised stage four of the Giro d'Italia.

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Leopard Trek's remaining eight riders and Garmin-Cervelo's Farrar were arm in arm as they crossed the finish line in Livorno to the standing ovation of an emotional crowd.

Weylandt, 26, was killed in a crash on Monday's stage three of the race.

Race organisers and the 23 teams involved in the Giro made a unanimous decision to neutralise the 216-kilometre stage from Genoa to Livorno in remembrance of Weylandt.

A minute's silence was observed in Genoa's Piazza Kennedy at the start of the stage before the Leopard Trek team rolled out alone in front of the peloton.

Some kilometres later, the British race leader David Millar - wearing the iconic maglia rosa - rode out alone to make a fitting tribute on behalf of the entire peloton.

Each team then rode around 10km each on the front of the peloton before stepping aside for Leopard Trek and Farrar.

Amid throngs of spectators - many of whom were waving signs bearing Weylandt's race number, 108 - the Belgian's team-mates invited Farrar to take the place of his best friend in the final kilometres into the coastal town of Livorno.

Arm in arm and teary eyed, the nine men crossed the line to complete the saddest stage in cycling history since the death of Italian Fabio Casartelli during the 1995 Tour de France.

Present in Livorno to witness the poignant scenes were the parents and sister of Weylandt, as well as the rider's pregnant partner Anne Sophie.

Earlier in the day, Weylandt's family visited the site of his fatal crash on the descent of the Passo del Bocco climb around 20km from the finish of Monday's stage three in Rapallo. Clearly upset, they laid flowers beside the road.

Moments before the finish on Tuesday, an Italian state pathologist announced the results of Weylandt's autopsy, revealing that the former Quick Step rider was killed instantly by his fall. He stressed that Weylandt would have felt no pain.

In addition to taking turns to ride on the front of the peloton, the race's remaining 206 riders all wore black armbands in a moving tribute to their former colleague.

A strong sprinter and popular character in the peloton, Weylandt was the only active Belgian alongside Philippe Gilbert to have won a stage at both the Giro and the Vuelta.

Felix Lowe / Eurosport

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