RIP Wouter.

RIP Wouter.   You'll be missed.
Today was an ice cold shower.  A reminder of just how dangerous our sport can be.

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. 
Tonight, I was using today's tragedy to explain to my 14 year old son Tommy just how dangerous this sport can really be.  How it's not just a 'game'.   How you have to have eyes in the back of your head, never take unnecessary risks, and be safe, super careful and conservative... always!

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.

Comments

  1. Ironically Wouter Weylandts won this very same stage of the Giro in 2010.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-g3aLpo68dE&NR=1&feature=fvwp

    Thanks for the post Eddy!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Eddy, I can relate to the way you feel about your son riding...and it sort of gives me comfort to know that others share the same misgivings I have about my children wanting to "ride like dad." To be sure, I'm no racer...but like you say, the activity is inherently risky and just seems to be getting riskier with time in this crazy world around us. Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts...it helps to know my own feelings aren't misplaced.
    Yesterday was a tragic day in cycling.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Patrick Mahoney here, Born and bred in Boston. Now in SoCal. Way newer to cycling then you, though. Nice to meet you. A friend sent me over. Awesome post & awesome blog....

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great read, and great advice. I am a racer and find myself on the road training hundreds of miles a month. Anything can happen whether we are careful or not. But being careful is all we can do.On the other hand, we have to be a bit care free too, and that is the sketchy part.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "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've ridden this road -- it's NOT any better or worse than plenty of other descents in Italy or France. A crash where your head hits something very solid at speed can kill you and can happen anywhere. The race organizers are not at fault here - unless you think road racing should skip the cobbles, twisty descents and epic climbs and instead be conducted on "sanitized for your protection" circuits like F1 or MotoGP.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You're absolutely right Larry & Heather... it's not that the road down is better or worse than many others. I don't think it was the course that was sketchy... rather, it was the way the guys were flying down it at warp speed that looked more crazy than normal to me. On the tube it seemed more 'nervous' than most descents you see on the tube.(e.g. Guys weaving, taking weird lines, etc.) On the edge...

    No way the course should be sanitized! Didn't mean to imply it was the promoters issue either...

    ReplyDelete
  7. That stretch of road looked like it was relatively straight and not steep - but I heard Weylandt clipped a wall - any video of the actual crash?

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  8. Here's a link for anyone wishing to make a donation to take care of Wouter's child. We've made a small donation today.
    Scroll down to the bottom of this page
    http://www.leopardtrek.lu/remembering-wouter

    ReplyDelete

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