Disaster Strikes Giro d’Italia as Cyclist Dies

A deadly accident has cast a pall of horror on the Giro d’Italia after professional cyclist Wouter Weylandt died in the third stage of the prestigious competition.

The 26-year-old Belgian rider was reportedly traversing the 173-kilometer stage between Reggio Emillia and the municipality of Rapallo in the northern Italian province of Genoa when he tumbled down as he was descending the Bocco mountain, just 25km away from the finish line. Weylandt of Team Leopard was attended by medics but he died while being airlifted to a nearby hospital.

“The team is left in a state of shock and sadness and we send all our thoughts and deepest condolences to all the family and friends of Wouter,” Team Leopard said in a statement. Weylandt turned pro in 2006 and earned some success while riding for Quick Step. One of Weylandt’s most notable wins came, incidentally, on the same third stage of the Giro last year.

Weylandt’s death is the first in a major cycling event since Andrei Kivilev of Kazakhastan died in an accident during the 2003 Paris-Nice event, CNN said.