Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi sadly passed away at the age of 37 after a collision with a van during his training ride, leaving behind a wife and two children.
His team, Astana, in a statement this morning, described this incident as a “tragedy too big to be written”. Last week only, Scarponi won the opening stage of the Tour of the Alps and was in the contentions of leading his team – Astana – at the 2017 Giro. And on Friday afternoon, he finished fourth during the Tour of the Alps in Trento and travelled back home – Filottrano – by car with his masseur before heading out for a ride on Saturday.
And here is how his compatriots paid their accolade:
“Devastated to hear the news about Scarponi. Can’t believe it. My thoughts with all his friends, family and team,” Thomas posted on Twitter.
“Terrible news to wake up to. One of the smiliest, happiest guys in the peloton. Rest in peace,” said British cyclist Alex Dowsett.
— Mark Cavendish (@MarkCavendish) April 22, 2017
“Paralysed and speechless with the news about Scarponi. Great person and always with a contagious smile. Rest in peace, friend,” Spanish rider Contador said.
“Endless tragedy. There are no words. Rest in peace, my friend,” said his Astana team-mate and compatriot Fabio Aru.
Scarponi started off his career in 2002 with the Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo team and finished 18th in his debut Giro d’Italia. After a bit of break in 2007 – where he was accused of alleged doping – he came back strongly in 2009, winning the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race.
Astana, on their part, paid tribute to a “great champion and a special guy”.
The team statement read: “Michele died in the morning while he was training. This is a tragedy too big to be written. Our athlete Michele Scarponi died this morning while he was training on his bike close to his home in Filottrano. Michele has been hit by a van on a crossroad.
“Born on 25 September 1979, he left a wife and two kids. Michele ended fourth in the Tour of Alps yesterday afternoon in Trento. Then he went home in Filottrano (Ancona) by car with his masseur and was home in the evening to his family. This morning Michele went out on his bike for an early morning training and there the tragedy happened.
“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 the Michele family in this incredibly painful moment of sorrow and mourning.”