Cycling world pays tribute to Michele Scarponi after Italian rider dies in training crash

Giro d'Italia 2011 winner hit by a van; former team-mate Vincenzo Nibali leads tributes

The cycling world paid tribute to 2011 Giro d’Italia winner Michele Scarponi over the weekend, after the Italian rider died aged 37 after a collision with a van while out on a training ride on Saturday morning (April 22).

Scarponi had just returned to his Ancona home after finishing fourth at the Tour of the Alps the previous day, with his Astana team confirming he was struck by a van at a crossroads near Filottriano.

Former Astana team-mate Vincenzo Nibali was among the riders to lead the tributes to Scarpa, and was visibly upset as he took to the start line of the Tour of Croatia later on Saturday.

Former team-mate Vincenzo Nibali (left) led the tributes to Michele Scarponi (right), who died in a training crash on Saturday (Pic: Sirotti)

Scarponi leaves behind a wife, Anna, and twin sons Giacomo and Tommaso, and Nibali – who sealed overall victory on the final day of the race – dedicated the win to Scarponi’s family.

“I did not pursue victory at all costs but, my friend, it came so easily,” he wrote in Italian on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Alejandro Valverde donated the prize money he won at Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday to Scarponi’s family, pointing to the sky as he crossed the finishing line in first place.

Mark Cavendish called Scarponi ‘one of the nicest guys you could ever meet’, while British time trial champion Alex Dowsett wrote, “Terrible news to wake up to. One of the smiliest happiest guys in the peloton. RIP.”

Fabio Aru, team-mates with Scarponi at Astana, wrote in Italian: “Infinite tragedy. There are no words. Rest in peace my friend.”

Scarponi had just returned home from finishing fourth at the Tour of the Alps (pic – Sirotti)

Italian women’s star Elisa Longo Borghini echoed those sentiments, writing, “There are no words, only a great feeling of emptiness today. Thoughts go out to Michele Scarponi’s family.”

World champion Peter Sagan, meanwhile, said Scarponi would be ‘missed dearly, not just as a rider but also as a great person’.

Geraint Thomas, who won the Tour of the Alps, said: “Devastated to hear the news about Scarponi. Can’t believe it. My thoughts with all his friends, family and team.”

Scarponi was declared the winner of the 2011 Giro d’Italia having initially finished runner-up to Alberto Contador before the Spaniard was disqualified for his failed doping test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France.

Scarponi was due to lead Astana at this year’s Giro d’Italia, following injury to Aru, having finished in the top four on four occasions in all and also helped support Nibali to victory last time out.

He is also a previous winner of Tirreno-Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya and Giro del Trentino, with last week’s opening stage win at the Tour of the Alps taking him to 19 pro wins in all.

The Astana team led the minute’s silence in tribute to Scarponi that was observed ahead of Liege-Bastogne-Liege (Pic: Sirotti)

Confirming the news, an Astana team statement read: “We left a great champion and a special guy, always smiling in every situation; he was a real milestone and a landmark for everyone in the Astana Pro Team.

“The Astana Pro Team clings to Michele’s family in this incredibly painful moment of sorrow and mourning.”


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