Scarponi to be buried in his cycling kit

Michele Scarponi is to be buried in his Astana team kit to reflect his life as a cyclist. His funeral service will take place in his hometown of Filottrano in the Marche region on Tuesday afternoon.

"The bike was his life, we'll say goodbye to him dressed as a cyclist," said Scarponi's widow, Anna Tommasi, according to Il Corriere della Sera. "For me and the children, this was the Michele who came home from work every day."

Scarponi was killed on Saturday morning when he was struck by a van while training just two kilometres from his home. The driver of the van was a 57-year-old local man. "We know each other well. I've lost a son, but I'm thinking of him too," Scarponi's father, Giacomo, said.

Tributes have been paid to Scarponi from the world of cycling. His old teammate Vincenzo Nibali dedicated his Tour of Croatia win to Scarponi's memory and to his twin sons Giacomo and Tommaso. A minute's silence was held before the start of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where winner Alejandro Valverde dedicated his victory to Scarponi and pledged his prize money to Scarponi's family.

Over the past two days, many of Scarponi's friends, teammates and managers from the Italian gruppo have come to Filottrano to pay their respects. The 37-year-old Scarponi claimed victory on the opening stage of the Giro del Trentino last week, and was set to lead Astana at the Giro d'Italia in the absence of the injured Fabio Aru. He had been due to travel to Sicily on Sunday for a pre-Giro training camp at Mount Etna.

Aru, Paolo Tiralongo and Astana directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli were among the mourners in Filottrano at the weekend. Martinelli recalled Scarponi's professionalism, highlighting the rigorous and serious athlete beneath the smiling veneer.

"He was an example. He was a man, and when someone is a man, he's a man. I had a great understanding with him from the start. I confided in him and he did in me. He would say things to you jokingly, and then if you didn't understand, he became serious and things had to go like he said," Martinelli told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"We were exchanging messages until 9 o'clock on Friday evening. He was supposed to be going to Mount Etna to fine tune his preparation, and he absolutely wanted his time trial bike with him. I said to him, 'But we've just spent a week on the Tour of the Alps, couldn't you have said it to me then?' And he replied, 'I only realise now that I'm going well. Do what you want, but I want the time trial bike - I can't go without it.' That just shows how scrupulous he was."

Martinelli also spoke of Scarponi's pivotal role in Nibali's 2016 Giro victory. Part of the early break on the road to Risoul, Scarponi led over the Colle Agnello but sacrificed the possibility of a stage win to stop and wait for Nibali, before helping to pace him as he launched his race-winning offensive.

"But what he did away from the race had double the value," Martinelli said. "He was Vincenzo's roommate and for this he went through hell, because Vincenzo has his rhythms, to put it lightly. Michele was fundamental in that victory.

"I still have his last voicemail stored on my phone. I can't bring myself to listen to it again or to delete it. His is an incredible loss, but cycling will certainly miss the man even more than the rider."

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