A poignant tribute to stricken rider Wouter Weylandt brought an end to the Giro d'Italia's fourth stage Tuesday as the Belgian's Leopard-Trek team came across the finish line together. Weylandt died in a fatal accident on Monday's third stage when he tumbled 20 meters to the road below as he negotiated a descent 25km from the finish line in Rapallo.
Amid a huge outpouring of emotion, the peloton agreed not to race the fourth stage, instead riding at a pace which effectively neutralized the race for the entire 216 km between Genoa and Livorno. Leopard-Trek's remaining eight-man squad came over the finish line here accompanied by Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Cervelo, a training partner and close friend of Weylandt in the American's adopted home of Ghent. Farrar, who fought to keep control of his emotions in the final kilometers, is set to leave the race on Tuesday.
As doctors prepared to carry out an autopsy which would later reveal that Weylandt died instantly, the peloton held a minute's silence before starting a procession that would last over six hours and finish half an hour later than scheduled. Throughout the day the 23 teams on the race relayed each other, receiving applause along the way as fans and onlookers did their small bit to pay tribute to Weylandt, with many brandishing copies of Weylandt's race number of 108.
After many riders had expressed their sadness and support for Weylandt's family in an outpouring of emotion on Twitter, the peloton agreed to award all prize money from the stage to Weylandt's family. Weylandt's partner Anne-Sophie, who is due to give birth to the couple's first child in September, went to lay flowers at the scene of the tragedy before traveling with Weylandt's parents to the hospital morgue in Lavagna, where his body is being held.
Pathologist Dr. Armando Mannucci said after carrying out the two-and-a-half hour autopsy that Weylandt "died instantly" and "did not suffer," according to the Ansa news agency. The 26-year-old's life came to a sudden end after he crashed on the twisting descent of the Bocco mountain pass around 25km from the finish line on Monday's third stage, which ended in Rapallo. While traveling at speed his left pedal briefly touched a wall at the side of the road, propelling the Leopard-Trek rider 20 meters to the ground below where he landed heavily on his face.
Dr. Mannucci said Weylandt suffered fatal skull and facial injuries as well as damage to his pelvis and a broken leg. A toxicology report is underway. Racing is set to resume in Wednesday's fifth stage, a 191 km ride from Piombino to Orvieto and notable for the numerous sections of unpaved road, known in Italian as "strade bianche" (white roads) that pepper the final 19kms.
Britain's David Millar (Garmin) holds the race leader's pink jersey, with a 7-second lead on Spaniard Angel Vicioso of the Androni team.