Astana to race Giro d'Italia one rider short in honour of Scarponi

Team to leave Italian's race number free after he tragically lost his life

The Astana team will line up at the Giro d'Italia with eight riders, rather than a full nine, in honour of Michele Scarponi, who tragically lost his life last weekend. 

After Fabio Aru suffered a knee injury in training, Scarponi was set to lead the Kazakh team in the 100th edition of the Giro, which he won in 2011, but the Italian was killed when hit by a van on a training ride last Saturday. The team announced their line-up for the Giro on Sunday, deciding not to bring in a replacement for Scarponi. 

"Michele should have been our leader for the Giro and for this reason we have decided not to substitute Michele in the line-up for the race, leaving his race number free," said general manager Alexander Vinokourov. 

"I think this is right decision and I am sure the organizers of the Giro d’Italia as well as the whole cycling community will accept and understand it. Obviously, this is not the only initiative that Astana Proteam is promoting to remember Michele and also to help his family. We initiated such an important thing as the fundraiser for his family, while many others will be developed in the next weeks and months."

Dario Cataldo, a highly-rated domestique for Aru, is now set to the team's general classification bid. The Italian has twice finished 12th overall at the Giro and, along with Scarponi, was racing strongly at the Tour of the Alps last week. Tanel Kangert is another rider who could 

They'll be joined on the start line in Sardinia by Paolo Tiralongo, Andrey Zeits. Pello Bilbao, Zhandos Bizhigitov, Jesper Hansen, and Luis Leon Sanchez. 

"Every day in this Giro d’Italia, as well as in all other races, Michele will be with us and, day by day, we will ride trying to honour his memory, fighting and smiling as he taught us all to do," added Vinokourov. 

Astana for the Giro d'Italia: Pello Bilbao, Zhandos Bizhigitov, Dario Cataldo, Jesper Hansen, Tanel Kangert, Luis Leon Sanchez, Paolo Tiralongo and Andrey Zeits.

 

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