Bahrain-Merida has made a late change to its Tour de Romandie squad with Enrico Gasparotto given leave to attend the funeral of former teammate Michele Scarponi. The two Italians were teammates at Astana in 2014 with the duo both riding the Giro d'Italia in that season.
Gasparotto and the Liege-Bastogne-Liege peloton paid tribute to Scarponi at the Belgian monument on Sunday. With the funeral service for Scarponi confirmed for Tuesday in his hometown of Filottrano, Gasparotto is one of several cyclists expected to attend.
"Gasparotto was a good friend of late Michele Scarponi and was really shocked with the news of passing of Michele, so Enrico will attend his funeral and miss this race," read a statement from Bahrain-Merida. "Gasparotto was really looking forward to this race as it is close to his residence but also because he connected Team Bahrain Merida with the foundation he supports and acts as an ambassador – Greenhope."
The team will wear custom Greenhope helmets at the Tour de Romandie this week with the helmets to be auctioned off at a later date and profits donated to the foundation.
Yukiya Arashiro will replace Gasparotto in the line up alongside Jon Izagirre Insausti (Spa), Tsgabu Grmay (Eth), Ondrej Cink (Cze), Janez Brajkovic (Slo), Wang Meiyin (Chn), Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn), Antonio Nibali (Ita) and Sonny Colbrelli (Ita).
Cyclingnews will have live coverage of the prologue and five road stages at the 2017 Tour de Romandie. For a complete race preview of the Tour of Romandie, click here.