I love cycling, and I’ve always been enchanted by the epic scale of it all; it was why I fell in love with it as a boy. Yet Wouter’s death today goes beyond anything that our sport is supposed to be about; it is a tragedy that we as sportsmen never expect, yet we live with it daily, completely oblivious to the dangers we put ourselves in. This is a sad reminder to us, the racers, what risks we take and what lives we lead.
Wouter was a sprinter; this means he was one of the most skillful bike-handlers in the peloton. For this to have happened to him shows that we are all at risk every single kilometre we race.
My wife was in tears when I spoke to her after the race because she couldn’t understand why the live television was showing him receiving medical attention when in such a horrific state. All she could imagine was that it was me. I haven’t told her yet, that like her, Wouter’s girlfriend is five months pregnant.
I am trying to imagine what that would be like to see the person I love most in the world in those circumstances. I can’t, and in honesty, I don’t want to.
Within our team we have one of Wouter’s best friends, Tyler [Farrar]. In a way he was Ty’s European brother. The next few days are going to be very difficult for us as racing cyclists, but for Tyler, and the friends and family of Wouter, it is going to be a lifetime of loss.
I will wear the pink jersey tomorrow, but it will be in memory of Wouter; there is no celebration or glory, only sadness. I will discuss with Tyler, [Team] Leopard and the family of Wouter what we as a peloton will do tomorrow.