Thousands mourn death of Italian cycling champion

Michele Scarponi

FILOTTRANO—Thousands of people gathered together to pay tribute to Italian cyclist, Michele Scarponi, after he was hit by a van in Filottrano whilst training.

 Scarponi, 37, had recently returned back to his hometown, after finishing fourth in the Tour of the Alps in Trento, when the accident took place during a training session in preparation for this year’s Giro d’Italia.

 The Italian was awarded the 2011 Giro d’Italia title when Spaniard Alberto Contador was stripped of his victory for doping offences.

 Team Astana announced their rider’s death in a statement describing the incident as, “a tragedy too big to be written.”

 “We lost 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,” continued the statement.

 People of all ages, including friends, fans and fellow sporting stars attended Scarponi’s funeral held at Filottrano’s sport’s ground, in order to pay their final homage to the champion.

 There was loud applause when the Italian’s coffin was carried into the stadium, where a mass took place before Scarponi’s body was carried to a nearby cemetery.

 A number of high-profile figures from the world of cycling were in attendance, lead by Astana teammate Fabio Aru. World Champion Peter Sagan and former teammate Vicenzo Nibali were joined by the President of the Italian Cycling Federation, Renato di Rocco.

 Former Inter Milan and Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini, a friend and occasional training parter of Scarponi, was also there to pay tribute to the Italian cyclist.

 The Italian Football Federation announced that there would be a minute’s silence at all Serie A matches at the weekend in honour of Scarponi. The Italian cyclist was an Inter Milan supporter, and was reportedly intending to attend their Serie A fixture against Fiorentina.

 Scarponi leaves behind a wife and two children.