Thousands mourn Weylandt
Ghent - Some 2 000 fans, riders and cycling officials gathered on Wednesday for the funeral of Wouter Weylandt, who died
following a crash during the Giro d'Italia last week.
Several of Weylandt's Leopard-Trek team-mates, including star rider Fabian Cancellara and Frank Schleck, attended the ceremony at Saint Peter's church in western Ghent. Huge screens were placed outside the church for fans who could not get in.
A message from Weylandt's pregnant partner An Sophie was read out during the service. She said that despite the sorrow "I have one thing to cling to - my little angel."
Weylandt, known for his sprinting skills, had already won stages in both the Vuelta of Spain and the Giro. The 26-year-old crashed when his pedal clipped a wall during a sharp descent late in the third stage of the Giro. He died almost instantly from his injuries.
US pro cyclist and close friend Tyler Farrar said that Weylandt "carried with him an energy and a joy that was infectious."
"I thought he was one of the coolest guys in the peleton," Farrar said. "He was intimidating but also worth imitating."
After the crash, all riders rode the next stage of the Giro bunched together out of respect for Weylandt. His Leopard-Trek team quit the three-week race the day after.
Before the start of Wednesday's 11th Giro stage in Castelfidardo, Britain's David Millar made a short, touching, speech on behalf of all riders in Weylandt's honour. Then a minute of silence was observed, with many riders taking their helmets off and hanging them on their handlebars as they paid tribute to their fallen colleague.