Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Wouter Weylandt, Special Forever


HomeJournalsTeam Wiggins Pro Dan PattenWouter Weylandt, Special Forever

So I’ve been meaning to put together a blog post of my latest experiences of life here in Flanders. This season has certainly had its ups and downs, but all this seems rather irrelevant after the events of this week. Cycling indeed has its fair share of tragedies and the death of Wouter Weylandt in Stage 3 of the Giro this year is another one added to that list.

My first memory of Wouter Weylandt was when I watched a pro criterium in Sint Niklaas back in 2008 and since that night have always been a fan of one of the most popular Belgian riders around.

Wouter Weylandt
R.I.P. Wouter Weylandt.

It is so sad that his life would end at such a young age and in such tragic circumstances.

Indeed cycling can be a dangerous sport, but you never expect something like this to happen. Just days on it is difficult to think about.

My thoughts are certainly with Wouter, his family and friends at this terrible time.

Wouter Weylandt will certainly not be forgotten, especially on my rides along the Schelde – a route that Weylandt used, and racing will be in his memory.

RIP Wouter Weylandt x

* * *

My season has continued on its stop-start path, summed up most notably by a kermesse in Kruishoutem.

Having not long been back from injury I was my normal aggressive self from the off and happened to escape inside the first couple of kms.

Though the front group was to swell to around 18 riders, this was to be the move that would stay out. Despite my lack of racing, I was very much switched on during the race and was riding strong to cover any threatening moves.

Of course I took my own chances to force a further split and with a little under 20km to go I was successful.

Going through two laps to go I had broken clear and was soon to be joined by four other riders… one of them being kermesse king Mario Willems. I was happy to see Mario, in the knowledge that I knew he wouldn’t then be chasing us.

Wouter Weylandt
My pal tries an arty shot.

The five of us were away and so it was to prove decisive. However going into the final corner for the bell lap I was to meet the road, the result of a tubular rolling off the rim at 50km/hr. Race over and skin left in Kruishoutem.

A race where I had been so strong (and rode so cleverly), when maybe I shouldn’t have been able to so soon, was over for me – and to rub salt into the wound (literally) I had to watch the four of them sprint it out for the win without me.

My chance for a big result so early on the comeback trail had gone, but if anything this race again reminded me of why I love racing in this country so much: excitement from start to finish, and I was a big part of that, that day.

Wouter Weylandt
Here I’m literally racing with a pain in my arse.

Though I was to race the following day and find myself in another race long break, eventually ending up 5th with my share of primies, the wound to my hip (and rear!) following this crash in Kruishoutem proved worse than first thought and became infected, resulting in some more days off the bike to ensure that it healed quickly.

A pain that seemed to be getting worse and more irritated day by day and training session after training session.

So more rest was prescribed, which meant another comeback would be on the cards. A comeback that saw me finish up 11th in Brugge-Dudzele.

Wouter Weylandt
I’m placing in the top 15 most of the time, but the podium is the target.

So given another ‘topsy turby’ month; 5th, 11th, 14th placings, plus a ‘what might have been’ in Kruishoutem along with half a dozen primies, wasnt a too bad showing.

Certainly if I get the run of the green, I will be expecting to turn some of these strong performances into race wins very soon.

With many big races coming up this month, it will certainly be the right time for that to happen.

And of course along the way Wouter Weylandt will be firmly in my thoughts.