|RIP Wouter. You'll be missed.|
Wouter Weylants is overleden. Tragic. There's not much more I can say.
I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't really know much about Wouter's career. I don't know much more than the fact that he was a great, selfless teammate of Tommeke on Quick Step for many years, a man who could win sprints himself when let loose to do so. I knew he'd joined Leopard Trek this year. And that he was a man who always seemed to have a smile on his face.
I just finished watching a distraught Michel Wuyts and Karl Vannieuwekere on Sporza paying tributes. Both guys - my favorite commentators -are real enthusiasts who live for the sport. Both looked a little in shock and pain.
I don't have words suitable, but read Johan Bruyneel's blog post here. He puts it perfectly I think.
After the high of 2011's super spring for Belgian cycling ... with a near clean sweep of the classics by Nuyens, VanSummeren, Boonen and Gilbert... our balloon has been suddenly burst, putting that sporting euphoria into context. Now, sadly we'll remember 2011 like we do 1956 and 1971 - the years when Belgian greats Stan Ockers, and Jempi Monsere similarly and tragically passed away in race crashes.
That Passo Bracco descent today looked really sketchy to me. More dangerous than normal. There looked like a thousand places for someone to come off, to hit something immovable.
|We need to remember Wouter like this.|
We'd just finished a great ride together yesterday afternoon. Me, the aged sprinter, grateful for having been the beneficiary of an enormous quotient of lifetime luck on the bike. And he, a young teen kitted out in full Quick Step regalia - Wouter Weylands team for years - feeling the rush and euphoria brought on by discovering the power his growing body can suddenly deliver in the form of self-locomotion, and ever greater speed.
I know that rush. I felt it the same way, many years ago. Only now, every time I ride with him, I'm more afraid in a way I never was, or am for myself. You try to instill caution, but the activity is inherently risky. He hasn't lived and felt the pain of having a teammate die in a collision with a car, something I experienced when New England Criterium champion Bob Donovan was killed in a training accident back in 1982.
He doesn't really understand that cycling can kill you if you're not careful. And possibly, even if you are.
But he needs to understand. We all do.
Wouter and his family are in our prayers tonight.
Please be careful out there wielersupporters.