The Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi has died at the age of 37 after being struck by a van while training.
Scarponi had returned home to Filottrano in the province of Ancona, after finishing fourth during the Tour of the Alps in Trento on Friday afternoon. Team Astana announced the rider’s death in a statement this morning, saying it was a “tragedy too big to be written”.
Scarponi, who was awarded 2011 Giro d’Italia victory when Alberto Contador was stripped of the title, won the opening stage of the Tour of the Alps last week, and was set to lead Astana at the 2017 Giro. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
Astana paid tribute to a “great champion and a special guy”. The team statement read: “Michele died in the morning while he was training. This is a tragedy too big to be written. Our athlete Michele Scarponi died this morning while he was training on his bike close to his home in Filottrano. Michele has been hit by a van on a crossroad.
“Born on 25 September 1979, he left a wife and two kids. Michele ended fourth in the Tour of Alps yesterday afternoon in Trento. Then he went home in Filottrano (Ancona) by car with his masseur and was home in the evening to his family. This morning Michele went out on his bike for an early morning training and there the tragedy happened.
“We left a great champion and a special guy, always smiling in every situation. He was a real milestone and a landmark for everyone in the Astana Pro Team. The Astana Pro Team clings to the Michele family in this incredibly painful moment of sorrow and mourning.”
Scarponi began his cycling career in 2002 and was well liked in the peloton with Mark Cavendish tweeting “Absolutely devastating to see the tragic news about Michele Scarponi . One of the nicest guys you could ever meet. RIP my friend.”