Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi killed in training crash with van

Vishnu Sukumaran
Michele Scarponi

Italian road bicycle racer Michele Scarponi died after being involved in a collision with a van during a training ride on Saturday.

A statement from his Astana team said the crash happened close to Scarponi's home in Filottrano. "This is a tragedy too big to be written," said the Astana statement.

The statement described Scarponi as a "great champion" and a "special guy", adding: "The Astana Pro Team clings to the Michele family in this incredibly painful moment of sorrow and mourning."

Scarponi had returned home to Filottrano, in the province of Ancona, after finishing fourth in the Tour of the Alps in Trento on Friday afternoon.

Scarponi had started his career in 2002. The "Filottrano eagle" joined Astana Pro Team in 2014 with the clear target to help Vincenzo Nibali to win the biggest world's races, and he did it right in that year at the Tour de France and later, in 2016 at the Giro d'Italia.

He was declared the winner of the 2011 Giro d'Italia after the disqualification of Alberto Contador. Other major results of his career were the 2009 Tirreno–Adriatico, the 2011 Volta a Catalunya and the 2011 Giro del Trentino stage races.

Scarponi was temporarily suspended by his team in November 2012 after he admitted performing tests with Michele Ferrari, a doctor whose name has been linked to numerous cases of doping in cycling.

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