Cyclist killed in crash
MILAN — Hurtling down an Italian mountain pass at a speed that only a car would normally reach, Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt lost control of his bike for just a split second. In a sport where the smallest mistake can have catastrophic consequences, it proved lethal.
Weylandt tumbled to his death yesterday in a downhill crash during the third stage of the Giro d’Italia, with the riders going up to 50 miles per hour at the time. It was the first fatality at the Italian race in 25 years and the first at one of the sport’s showcase tours in 16 years.
It was one of the most high-profile deaths at an international sports event since Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili’s fatal crash in training on the eve of last year’s Vancouver Olympics.
It also renewed questions about safety in cycling, where riders zip down winding mountain roads with steep drops and hairpin curves.
“Our sport is very tragic at times. It has been throughout its history,’’ said British rider David Millar, who took the pink jersey as race leader after yesterday’s stage but said it now meant “nothing.’’
Paramedics frantically tried to revive Weylandt, who was sprawled on his back on the road, bleeding heavily from the face and head.
Portuguese rider Manuel Cardoso, who saw the accident, said Weylandt lost control after slamming into a wall on the side of the road during the descent about 12 miles from the finish in Rapallo in northern Italy.
Weylandt’s body was covered by a sheet and taken away by ambulance about an hour after the accident. Local investigators immediately opened an inquiry. Weylandt’s body was taken to a nearby hospital for an autopsy.