Cycling: Veteran Italian Scarponi, the 2011 Giro champion, killed in road accident while training

Italian Michele Scarponi of team Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli celebrates as he crosses the finishing line to win the 182-km-long 18th stage of the 92nd Giro d'Italia cycling tour of Centennial, from Sulmona to Benevento, Italy, on May 28, 2009.
Italian Michele Scarponi of team Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli celebrates as he crosses the finishing line to win the 182-km-long 18th stage of the 92nd Giro d'Italia cycling tour of Centennial, from Sulmona to Benevento, Italy, on May 28, 2009. PHOTO: EPA

(REUTERS, AFP) - Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi has been killed in a road accident after being hit by a van while training close to his home in Filottrano, his Astana team said on Saturday.

The 37-year-old finished the Tour of Alps on Friday and left home early on Saturday morning for a training ride where the accident occurred at a crossroads.

"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," Astana said in a statement.

Scarponi is survived by his wife and two children.

"This is a tragedy too big to be written," Astana wrote on Twitter, paying tribute to the veteran, who won the Giro d'Italia in 2011. "Ciao Michele," the team added.