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:
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:
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.