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Lithuania's Urbonaite passes away

By:
Gregor Brown in Sondrio, Italy
Published:
May 28, 2008, 0:00 BST,
Updated:
April 20, 2009, 21:32 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, May 28, 2008

Former professional women's cyclist Zita Urbonaite was killed earlier this week after being hit by a...

Former professional women's cyclist Zita Urbonaite was killed earlier this week after being hit by a train in Montebelluna, Treviso, Italy. While Police investigations are ongoing, several Italian publications have reported the Lithuanian committed suicide.

Urbonaite retired from professional sport in 2006 to marry and start a family. Three months ago Urbonaite had her first child, a daughter named Greta with her partner of seven years Luca Valbusa. Reports say that Urbonaite had been experiencing postpartum depression, but was believed to be doing well in recent weeks.

Tributes have begun to flow in for the Lithuanian, with former team manager Maurizio Fabretto describing her as "a girl of gold".

"I saw her, even if only fleetingly, at least once a week," Fabretto told Ciclonews.it. "The last time was just three-four days ago. But there was no word or thought that might make me think of such an extreme gesture."

The 35 year-old was one of the pioneers of her homeland's female cycling scene, along with the likes of Jolanta Polikeviciute, Rasa Polikeviciute and Edita Pucinskaite. Urbonaite claimed the national road cycling title in 1999 and 2002 and held the women's Giro d'Italia pink leaders jersey for three days during her career.

"Who knows what has really upset [her], I did not notice anything," added Fabretto. "I am really struggling to find a valid reason to explain why she decided to end that horrible way. She was happily married and recently became a mother. She worked with her husband Luc and could also be near his sister."

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