Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt died Monday after a high-speed crash during the third stage of the Giro d'Italia, casting a pall over the race and sport.
Many athletes expressed their dismay via social media platforms.
American cycling legend Lance Armstrong stated via 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."
British star Mark Cavendish tweeted: "Things like this shouldn’t happen. Absolutely sick to the stomach. My thoughts are with his family. RIP Wouter Weylandt."
The Giro race website stated: "It is sadly ironic that he was the winner of last year's Stage 3 at the Giro d'Italia in Middleburg."
Weylandt crashed on a downhill section of the course about 12 miles from the third-stage finish line in northern Italy, near the town of Mezzanego. Paramedics cut his helmet free during resuscitation attempts, according to the Associated Press.
He becomes the first cyclist to have died after a crash during one of the sport's three main tours since Italy's Fabio Casartelli died during the 1995 Tour de France. Weylandt is the fourth cyclist to have perished as a result of a crash during the Giro competition, but the first in 25 years.