Italian cycling great Michele Scarponi has been tragically killed following a crash with a van during a training ride. The 37-year-old was close to his home in Filottrano when the accident happened, preparing for the Giro d'Italia, a race he won in 2011. “This is a tragedy too big to be written,” said his team Astana in a statement. Scarponi had just returned home from last week’s Tour of the Alps, where he won the first stage and finished fourth overall behind the winner, Geraint Thomas.
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.
Climbing specialist Scarponi, who leaves behind a wife and two children, turned professional in 2002 with the Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo team. He initially finished second in the 2011 Giro d'Italia, but was later awarded his only Grand Tour title after original winner Alberto Contador was stripped of the prize by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2012, following a positive drugs test. Spaniard Contador was quick to pay tribute to the man who took his title: “Paralysed and speechless with the news about Scarponi. Great person and always with a contagious smile. Rest in peace, friend.”
Devastated to hear the news about Scarponi. Can’t believe it. My thoughts with all his friends, family and team.