Italian cyclist Scarponi killed in traffic collision

37-year-old struck by a van on a training ride, according to his team

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Italian cyclist Scarponi killed in traffic collision

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Italian cycling champion Michele Scarponi has been killed in a traffic accident in Italy, only days after finishing 4th at the Tour of the Alps.

His Astana team said in a statement that he was hit by a van at a cross roads on a early morning training ride near his home in central Italy.

Scarponi led a varied career. From the lows of a 15 month doping ban after Operation Puerto, to the highs of winning the coveted Maglia Rosa at the 2011 Giro d’Italia (after Spaniard Alberto Contador was disqualified for doping).

But along with personal glory, Scarponi was known as a devoted team player. He helped fellow Italian Vincenzo Nibali to win the Tour de France in 2014, and the Giro in 2016. Victory at the opening stage of the Tour of the Alps was the first win for “Scarpa” in four years.

Tributes have poured in for one of the peloton’s most popular riders, praising the Italian for his up-beat attitude, and mid-race outbursts of song.

In 2016 Scarponi showed his comedic side on Twitter, posting a series of videos of his neighbour’s pet macaw, Frankje, who would fly alongside the cyclist, or even hitch a ride home.

The 37-year-old is survived by his wife and two young children.