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Cycling world saddened by Wouter deatth.

Byline: CINDY GARCIA-BENNETT

LANCE ARMSTRONG led the tributes to Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt following his death during yesterday's third stage of the Giro d'Italia. The 26-year-old Leopard Trek rider fell with 25 kilometres remaining of the 173km stage from Reggio Emilia to Rapallo and was unconscious with blood coming from his mouth and nose.

Medics gave him a cardiac massage at the scene but were unsuccessful in their attempts to revive him.

Messages of condolence poured in from cyclists and teams.

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong said on Twitter: "Just back from a run and got the news of Wouter Weylandt's death today in the Giro. I'm shocked and saddened. May he rest in peace."

Lance Great Britain's Mark Cavendish added: "Things like this shouldn't happen. Absolutely sick to the stomach. My thoughts are with his family. RIP Wouter Weylandt."

A statement from Leopard Trek general manager Brian Nygaard read: "Today, our team-mate and friend Wouter Weylandt passed away after a crash on the third stage of the Giro d'Italia.

"The team is left in a state of shock and sadness and we send all our thoughts and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Wouter.

"This is a difficult day for cycling and for our team, and we should all seek support and strength in the people close to us."

His old team Quick Step, with whom he rode until this year, paid an emotional tribute to their former rider.

Their statement read: "On behalf of the entire Quick-Step Cycling team our hearts go out to Wouter's family, friends and the colleagues of Team Leopard, in this sad, sad time.

"For all of us, Wouter was a friend before he was a colleague. We remember him as an honest man, always available with a smile on his face and forever generous towards the next guy.

"Wouter leaves us with a terrible sense of loss and unbearable grief. We want to remember him with arms held high, crazy with joy after a victory, like the one at Middelburg last year. This is the image of him that all of us will carry in our hearts forever."

Weylandt, who won stage three of the same race last year and also stage 17 of Armstrong the 2008 Vuelta a Espana, became the fourth rider to lose his life in the history of the Giro and the first since 1986.

His body has been taken to a hospital in the city of Lavagna where an autopsy will be carried out to determine the cause of death.

The podium celebration at the end of the race was cancelled by organisers.

"That just shows what our sport is about. It's pretty extreme," Briton David Millar, who assumed the race lead, said.

"There's no point even dedicating anything to Wouter, because it doesn't even come close to making up for what has happened."

On the crash, he added: "It was a very technical descent. We raced hard ahead of it to make sure we were at the front going down. Anything could have happened on it, we went controlled because we were at the front, but that means at the back they would have been strung out."

CAPTION(S):

Lance Armstrong Wouter Weylandt pictured celebrates winning a stage on the Giro d''Italia, died yesterday after a crash in the race
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 10, 2011
Words:557
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