Michele Scarponi has been killed while training at home on Saturday morning.
According to reports in the local media and Gazzetta dello Sport, the 37-year-old Astana rider had left his home for a short ride after finishing the Tour of the Alps on Friday and returning to his home in Filottrano in the central Le Marche region of Italy. He was reportedly hit by a van at a crossroads after the driver failed to see him.
The Astana team confirmed the news on its website, writing: “This is a tragedy too painful to be written. Our athlete Michele Scarponi died this morning while he was training on his bike close to his home in Filottrano. Michele was hit by a van on a crossroad.”
“Michele finished fourth in the Tour of Alps yesterday afternoon in Trento. Then he went home to Filottrano (Ancona) by car with his masseur and was home in the evening with his family. This morning Michele went out on his bike for an early morning training ride and there the tragedy happened.”
“We’ve lost a great champion and a special guy, always smiling in every situation. He was a real cornerstone and a landmark for everyone in the Astana Pro Team.”
“The Astana Pro Team offers its deepest sympathies to Michele’s family in this incredibly painful moment of sorrow and mourning.”
Scarponi was known and admired as being one of the friendliest riders in the peloton. For the last year or so, he entertained fans with videos on social media of his friendship with a Macaw called Frankje, who would fly along side him or land on his helmet.
Scarponi had recently been named the leader of the Astana team for the Giro d’Italia after Fabio Aru was ruled of the race due to a knee injury.
He won the opening stage at the Tour of the Alps on Monday and wore the race leader’s jersey for a day. He dedicated his victory to the earthquake victims of central Italy, to his wife Anna and young twin sons, Giacomo and Tommaso.
Scarponi's last post on Twitter was a photo of him wearing the race leader’s jersey he had brought home from the Tour of the Alps.
Cyclingnews would like to extend its deepest condolences to Michele Scarponi's family, friends and teammates.