RAPALLO, Italy (VN) – Manuel Cardoso, a Portuguese rider on the RadioShack team, is one of the few riders who witnessed the tragic accident that claimed the life of Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt in Monday’s third stage at the Giro d’Italia.
Cardoso was trailing Weylandt near the bottom of the Passo del Bocco with about 25km to go when he saw the big Belgian crash.
RadioShack press attaché Philippe Maertens released this e-mail to VeloNews on what Cardoso saw: “Wouter was dropped and tried to come back to the group,” Maertens wrote of Cardoso’s reaction. “(Weylandt) then looked behind to see if he would be better to wait for other dropped riders (some 20). While looking behind, he hit with his left pedal or the left side of his handlebars on a small wall and was catapulted to the other side of the road when he hit again something. It must have been terrible.”
Cardoso later finished in a group of riders at 3:20 back that also included Leopard-Trek rider Tom Stamsnijder, who also saw his teammate fall. “I saw him crash,” Stamsnijder said at the line. “It was a very hard fall.”
Italian police later went to the RadioShack team hotel after the stage to question Cardoso on details of the tragic accident that put a pall over the Giro.
RadioShack team boss Johan Bruyneel, who left the Giro to return to the United States for the Tour of California, said he was “shocked” by the death of his compatriot.
“Such a sad day for our sport, RIP Wouter Weylandt,” Bruyneel wrote on his Twitter account. “Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. I’m shocked.”