Cyclist Michele Scarponi, Giro d’Italia 2011 Winner, Dies In Collision With A Van While Training

Cyclist Michele Scarponi, who won the Giro d’Italia in 2011, has died from injuries sustained in a collision with a van during a training session. He was 37.

According to The Associated Press, Scarponi was hit and killed instantly on the scene Saturday by a van at a crossroad while training near his home in Filottrano, Italy.

In a statement announcing Scarponi’s death, Team Astana called the collision “a tragedy too big to be written” in a statement.

“We left a great champion and a special guy, always smiling in every situation, he was a real mile stone and a landmark for everyone in the Astana Pro Team.”

The crash occurred just days after the Giro champion returned home after finishing fourth in the Tour of the Alps, in which he finished first on the first stage of the race.

Scarponi is survived by his wife, Anna, and 4-year-old twin sons.

In a sad irony, Scarponi posted a photo following the race on Friday night, which showed him with his twin sons on his back, with the caption, “Even if only for a day I thought I’d bring home two leaders’ jerseys.”

i miei leader…#twins #leader #casadolcecasa @tommasi.anna77

A post shared by Michele Scarponi (@michele.scarponi) on

Wife Anna posted a photo of Scarponi just hours after his death on Instagram, which showed a sweet and heart-breaking image if the champion riding outside the Astana team bus with his sons watching. She captured the photo, “thank-you everyone.”

Grazie a tutti….#tourofthealps #astanaproteam #argon18 #sidi #limar #namedsport #erora

A post shared by Michele Scarponi (@michele.scarponi) on

Scarponi was recently named Astana leader for the upcoming Giro d’Italia, which begins in two weeks.

Scarponi, who was a master at climbing, turned professional in 2002 with the Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo team. He finished 18th in his first Giro d’Italia.

Allegations of doping have followed the cyclist throughout his career. He won the 2011 Giro after Alberto Contador was stripped of the title as a result of doping. Scarponi was banned for 18 months in July 2007 during the infamous Operation Puerto doping scandal, reports BBC Sports.

In 2012, he was suspended for three months while he worked with the banned physician Michele Ferrari.

Fellow cyclists have taken to social media to mourn the well-liked Scarponi.

Former teammate Vincenzo Nibali wrote, “I don’t know, I can’t cope! I don’t have words my friend…”

Italy team coach Davide Cassani shared on Twitter that the accident is shocking.

“Yesterday he was racing. He came up to me. Michele was smiling, as ever. He was happy for (Monday’s) win. He was talking about the Giro. And now I’m here crying for him. Oh my God.”

Known for his sense of humor and easy-going disposition, Scarponi often had a little fun by filming his training sessions with a parrot on his shoulder. His posts of the antics frequently went viral.

“Terrible news to wake up to. One of the smiliest, happiest guys in the peleton. Rest in peace,” said British cyclist Alex Dowsett wrote in a post to Twitter.

A moment of silence is scheduled for all soccer matches this weekend in honor of Scarponi, the Italian football federation announced on Saturday. This comes in light of Scarponi’s love of soccer and his favorite team, Inter Milan. He reportedly planned to attend Saturday night’s Nerazzurri’s Serie A match.

Inter Milan joined the throngs of organizations that mourned Scarponi’s death on Twitter.

“Our condolences and hugs to your dearest in a very sad day for sport. Your Inter bids you farewell with affection.”

[Featured Image by Peter Dejong/AP Images]