Liege-Bastogne-Liege peloton pays tribute to Michele Scarponi

Astana riders in tears as they line-up for the race

The riders, organisers and fans at the start of Liege-Bastogne-Liege paid a moving tribute to Michele Scarponi before the start of the race.

Some of the riders wore black armbands as a sign of respect following the tragic death of the Italian rider on Saturday morning. Scarponi was hit by a vehicle after setting out for an early-morning ride just a few hours after returning home from the Tour of the Alps.

Riders in Belgium for Liege-Bastogne-Liege expressed their shock and grief after hearing the news on Saturday. Many knew Scarponi well because of his long career and his friendly nature.

Scarponi’s sudden death brought home how much they risk their lives out on the road.

At the start on Sunday morning, race director Christian Prudhomme made a brief speech and then the riders and crowd gave a long, emotional round of applause to pay their final respect to Scarponi.

The Astana team did not attend the official team presentation on Saturday but they bravely lined up on the front of the peloton, some shedding a tear before starting the race. Other riders were also in tears before rolling out of Liege.

Scarponi was not due to ride this year’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege after completing the Tour of the Alps. However he rode Liege-Bastogne-Liege six times, finishing fourth in 2003, fifth in 2013 and eighth in 2012.

After spending the weekend at home with his family Scarponi had planned to travel to Mount Etna in Sicily to study the first mountain stage of the race and do some final training at altitude. Now his family and friends, like the riders at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, are trying to come to terms with his sudden death.

Scarponi’s funeral is expected to be hold in his home village of Filottrano on Tuesday.

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