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Schleck struggles with Weylandt tragedy, Amgen to remember fallen rider

Amgen Tour of California, 2011. Andy Schleck at news conference
Andy Schleck with Levi Leipheimer at Friday's news conference. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

STATELINE, Nevada (VN) – Andy Schleck said Friday that he is struggling with the death of friend and teammate Wouter Weylandt and that his team would honor the fallen Belgian on Sunday and the rest of the season.

Schleck said Friday that the news of Weylandt’s death was particularly hard for him as the two were not only teammates at Leopard-Trek, but friends. “The loss of Wouter last week was personally a big shock; he was a good friend of mine,” said Schleck “There are no words to describe the feeling going through me, my brother, our team.”

Weylandt died from injuries sustained in a high-speed crash during the third stage of the Giro d’Italia on Monday.

His voice cracking on the podium, Schleck said he arrived in California to acclimate to the elevation and work with Trek earlier this week and watched on television as the peloton honored his friend on Tuesday. “The Giro showed respect and it was really nice to see,” he said.

2011 Tour of California, Wouter Weylandt bracelets
All racers received black memorial bracelets at Friday's team presentation.

Riders set out on a two-wide processional with Leopard-Trek — and Weylandt’s close friend Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo) — leading them across the line to close the fourth stage.

Schleck said that Leopard riders would wear black bracelets individualized with their names, and which read “In Memory Of Wouter Weylandt,” beginning in California this weekend. AEG president Andrew Messick announced that Weylandt would be remembered during a moment of silence before the start of the first stage and that his Leopard-Trek teammates would lead the race from the line.

“It’s a terrible thing and reminds all of us in the larger cycling family that the sport is dangerous,” he said. “We intend to honor him in this race.”

Looking down at the table before him, Schleck struggled to describe the struggle faced by Weylandt’s girlfriend Sophie, who is carrying the couple’s first child. He did urge fans to make donations to a fund set up by the Leopard team to support the family.