Italy’s most famous bicycle race has been shrouded in tragedy after the death of a Belgian cyclist yesterday.
26-year-old Wouter Weylandt died after a ghastly high speed crash. The accident took place near Rapallo during the last downhill stretch towards the day’s finish line.
Weylandt is the first athlete to die in the last 25 years of the famous race. Previously, three other cyclists were killed during the Giro, in 1952, 1976 and 1986.
The race has been taking place since 1909 and is one of the three major tours that make up the Grand Tour professional bike racing, the other two being the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana.
The 2011 Giro d’Italia has been described as one of the most difficult courses in memory. In honor of Italy’s 150th anniversary of unification, this year’s race route snakes throughout the entire country.
The professional cyclists are planning a tribute to Weylandt in the next stage of the race.