Wouter Weylandt was pronounced dead soon after a single-bike crash in a hilly stage of the Giro D'Italia, one of the three Grand Tours of cycling, and often the most dangerous.
Race organizers are trying to reconstruct what happened, though early reports indicated Weylandt struck a wall on a descent 12 miles from the finish line and was thrown from his bike.
TV footage captures the aftermath of the crash and shows paramedics cutting Weylandt lying motionless on the ground, blood coming from his nose as paramedics cut him out of his helmet and jersey. Broadcasters are pulling the videos from hosting sites as quickly as they're being uploaded.
Paramedics performed CPR and administered shots of adrenaline, but "he was already unconscious, his condition was already compromised," said race doctor Giovanni Tredici. "We tried for 40 minutes to resuscitate him but there was nothing we could do."
The 26-year-old was taken to a hospital after a delay caused by the helicopter looking for a landing spot in the hilly Northern Italy country, and was declared dead this afternoon from injuries including a fractured skull. The stage finished as scheduled, but all post-race activities were cancelled.
Weylandt's death is the fourth in the Giro's history, and the first in one of the "Big Three" of bicycle racing since the 1995 Tour de France. The Giro is known for its high speeds, steep slopes and dangerous crashes. Two years ago a Spanish rider fell 200 feet off the side of a mountain road, and was put into a medically induced coma that saved his life.
Weylandt is survived by his girlfriend, who is expecting their first child in September.