Michele Scarponi, Italian cyclist, dies after being hit by van while training

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SERAING, BELGIUM - JULY 07: Michele Scarponi of Italy and Astana Pro Team looks on ahead of the start of stage four of the 2015 Tour de France, a 223.5km stage between Seraing and Cambrai, on July 7, 2015 in Seraing, Belgium. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi, who won the Giro d’Italia in 2011, died in a road collision while training Saturday morning, his Astana Pro Team said in a statement.

Scarponi, 37, was struck by a van near his home in Filottrano in Italy’s Le Marche region.

He was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Tour of Alps Friday afternoon in Trento, the team said, before returning home to his family. On Saturday morning, Scarponi went out for a training ride when he was hit at a crossroad.

In their statement, the team mourned the loss of “a great champion and a special guy, always smiling in every situation… He was a landmark for everyone in the Astana Pro Team.”

Scarponi was named the winner of the 2011 Giro d’Italia after Alberto Contador was stripped of victories in connection with a doping scandal.

British cyclist Mark Cavendish tweeted that Scarponi was “one of the nicest guys you could ever meet.”

Contador tweeted he was left “speechless” by the news, and he recalled Scarponi always had a smile that was contagious.

Survivors include a wife and two children.

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