The Australian cycling community has reacted with shock following the death overnight of 2008 National Road Series winner, Carly Hibberd.
The 26-year-old from Sherwood in Queensland was on a training ride with Colombian Diego Tamayo north of Milan on Wednesday morning Italian time, when she was struck by a car. Emergency services flew to the scene by helicopter but were unable to save her and she died at the scene. Tamayo escaped uninjured.
Hibberd was a former runner who came into cycling through a talent identification scheme. She was a scholarship holder at the Queensland Academy of Sport for two years and raced domestically with the MBCycles team from 2006 to 2008.
Hibberd won the women's Cycling Australia National Road Series in 2008 after earning points in all six rounds. She moved to Italy in 2009 to pursue a cycling career racing with the Michela Fanini-Record-Rox team up until this season when she joined Cassina Rizzardi A Style Fionucci.
Hibberd's family and her fiancé Cameron Rogers, released the following statement:
We appreciate everyone's kind thoughts on the very sad news we received overnight, regarding Carly's sudden passing in Italy.
Carly has been racing in Italy for the past three years and loving every minute of it. She was living her dream. It was her passion, along with her love for Cameron, to whom she was to be married in October this year.
They spoke to each other constantly, not a day went by without numerous calls.
Her love of cycling was fostered from a very early age by her parents, her father, Mark and brother Luke, riding along with her and her mother Ros was a constant support and gave her great encouragement.
Carly's many friends throughout the world have been coming forward with messages of love for Carly, Cameron and their families.
We very much appreciate these messages but do ask that everyone respects our privacy at this time to allows us time to come to terms with what has happened.
The incident comes a week before the sixth anniversary of the death of Amy Gillett who was tragically killed while cycling with the Australian Women's Cycling Team in Germany, when a driver careered across the wrong side of the road into the riders.
"Everyone in the cycling community is feeling the loss and our thoughts and sympathy are with her family and her fiancé," said Cycling Australia CEO Graham Fredericks. "Carly was following her cycling dream in Italy, doing what she loved to do and enjoying life. Sadly that dream has ended.
"Our thoughts are also with the members of the Ipswich Cycling Club where Carly was a member," he said.
Former teammate Liz Young rode with Hibberd for two years in the MBCycles team.
"Carly was a bright, friendly, energetic young person," she recalled. "She had a great passion for her sport and for life in general.
"When she was around 19 she decided she wanted to become a professional cyclist and she pursued that dream with a great deal of passion," Young said. "She dedicated her life to her sport and to her friends and family and was a very positive person to be around."
News of Hibberd's accident travelled fast among the many Australians currently riding the Tour de France, with many responding via their Twitter feeds:
"I'm very, very sorry, I ride that road too." - Cadel Evans
"It's so sad to hear about the death of Carly Hibberd, my thoughts are with her family and friends." – Mark Renshaw
"Extremely sad news about Carly. Shocking. It hasn't been a good year. Condolences to her family and friends. RIP." – Stuart O'Grady
Cyclingnews sends our condolences to Carly's family and friends.