David Millar became the first Brit to wear the leader’s jersey in all three Grand Tours and only the third Brit to take the Giro d’Italia’s pink jersey today in Rapallo. However, the day ended tragically for him and the rest of the peloton with the news of Wouter Weylandt’s deadly crash.

“There’s no point in even dedicating anything to Wouter because it does not even do it justice,” Millar told Cycling Weekly. “I just feel so horrible for his family. I can’t imagine what his family is going through.”

Weylandt’s crashed into a wall, on a descent around 23 kilometres from the finish. Millar and the other riders ahead were unaware of the crash and its consequences. He jumped ahead with four kilometres remaining and joined an escape group with Garmin-Cervélo team-mate Christophe Le Mevel, Pablo Lastras (Movistar), Daniel Moreno (Katusha) and Ángel Vicioso (Androni).

Vicioso won the stage, but Millar gained enough time to take the leader’s pink jersey from Mark Cavendish. He now leads by seven seconds over Vicioso. As soon as he finished, though, he heard the news from a journalist. In fact, race organisers cancelled the stage podium presentation and Millar only received his pink jersey while waiting for an anti-doping control.

“I tried it on, took it off and handed it back [to a Garmin helper],” said Millar. “That sums up the day. I said, ‘This is weird.’”

Millar was less concerned about the jersey and more concerned about Weylandt, his family and team-mate Tyler Farrar. Farrar is based in Ghent, Belgium, and trains often with Weylandt.

“It’s the unthinkable, my poor wife is distraught. It doesn’t even bear thinking how horrific it must have been for Wouter’s family watching it on TV,” continued Millar.

“I am not looking forward going back to the hotel because he’s Tyler’s best friend. I am honestly a bit concerned about how he is because he is an emotional young man. He was so close to Wouter, it was like one of his brothers. It’s just horrible.”

Millar is the only British rider to wear the leader’s jersey in all three Grand Tours. Brits have worn the pink jersey five times in the Giro: Cavendish three times – two days in 2008 and once this year – and Bradley Wiggins once last year. Though Millar had it on for a minute today, he’s unsure if he’ll wear it tomorrow.

“I don’t think it will make a difference if I wear it or not.”

Giro d’Italia 2011: Related links

Giro d’Italia to continue after Weylandt tragedy

Wouter Weylandt killed in Giro crash

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