Sports

Italian Cyclist Michele Scarponi Struck by Van, Killed While Training

"We left a great champion and a special guy, always smiling in every situation​."
April 22, 2017, 3:30pm
Michele Scarponi at the 2005 Giro d'Italia. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Giro d'Italia champion cyclist Michele Scarponi was killed in a road accident while training near his home in Italy earlier this morning, his Astana Pro Team said in a statement. His team said that Scarponi was struck by a van at a crossroad in Filottrano, in the Le Marche region—just a day after placing fourth in the Tour of Alps in Trento.

Several professional cyclists have come out and paid tribute to Scarponi, notably British cyclist Mark Cavendish and Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador:

Absolutely devastating to see the tragic news about @MicheleScarponi . One of the nicest guys you could ever meet. RIP my friend. pic.twitter.com/hJrx4hgdoE
— Mark Cavendish (@MarkCavendish) April 22, 2017

Paralizado y sin palabras ante la noticia sobre el atropello a Scarponi,gran persona y siempre con una sonrisa contagiosa.D.E.P amigo.
— Alberto Contador (@albertocontador) April 22, 2017

In 2011, Scarponi won the Giro d'Italia after Contador was stripped of the title for doping. Contador describes himself as being "paralyzed and speechless" after the passing of his friend Scarponi, who always wore a "contagious smile."

Scarponi was also known for training with his pet parrot Frankie:

...un emoticon per il mio amico Frankje? pic.twitter.com/y3614iGFSV
— Michele Scarponi (@MicheleScarponi) March 24, 2017

...3 orette oggi Frankje... pic.twitter.com/Qg5RGPyHBP
— Michele Scarponi (@MicheleScarponi) November 22, 2016

Team Astana started out their statement by saying, "This is a tragedy too big to be written," later going on to say, "We left a great champion and a special guy, always smiling in every situation."

Scarponi is survived by his wife and two children.