Astana rider was killed in collision with van this morning

Tributes are being paid to 2011 Giro d’Italia champion Michele Scarponi, who was killed in a collision with a van this morning while training near his home in Italy.

The 37-year-old returned home yesterday after finishing fourth in the Tour of the Alps and tweeted a picture last night of himself with his twin boys, both wearing the leader’s jerseys he was awarded after winning the first stage of the race.

He wrote: “Even if just for one day, I thought about bringing two leader’s jerseys home.”

His death has left the world of cycling in Italy and further afield in shock. Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, who yesterday sealed the overall win at the Tour of the Alps, was among those to pay tribute.

Scarponi joined Astana in 2014 and was a key rider in support of Vincenzo Nibali when the Sicilian won the Tour de France that year. Nibali wrote: “I don’t know. I can’t do it. I have no words my friend.”

Scarponi was popular with his fellow pros, many taking to Twitter this morning to express their shock at the news and condolences to his family.

Off the bike he was rarely without a smile on his face and was known for his sense of humour, epitomised by several videos he posted to Twitter showing a parrot joining him on training rides near his home. This one was retweeted this morning by Italian journalist Tancredi Palmeri.

Two-time Giro d’Italia champion Ivan Basso described Scarponi as his “dear friend” and spoke of his “infectious smile.”

Scarponi was runner-up to Alberto Contador in the 2011 Giro d’Italia and was awarded the overall title the following year after the Spaniard was banned for doping.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.