A road accident during cycle training has claimed the life of Italian professional Michele Scarponi. His team Astana said its leading rider was hit by a van at a crossroads near his home town of Filottrano.
Scarponi, the winner of the Giro d'Italia in 2011 and aged 37, died before reaching hospital, said the Italian Cycling Federation after Saturday's head-on collision.
Authorities confiscated the van, whose 57-year-old driver reportedly faces a charge of causing death through negligence.
The cyclist had been out on an early morning training ride, near Filottrano, his home town in Italy's Marche region, near the Adriatic coast. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
"This is a tragedy too big to be written," Astana said via Twitter, while the federation's president, Renato Di Rocco, called for a minute's silence at weekend cycling events.
Only last Monday, Scarponi had won the opening stage of the Tour of the Alps and had been named to captain the Astana team for this year's Giro d'Italia, which starts on May 5.
It described him as a "great champion" who was "always smiling in every situation."
ipj/rc (Reuters, SID, dpa, AFP)