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Van driver is due to go on trial shortly on manslaughter charges in connection with death of 2011 Giro d'Italia champion...

The motorist involved in the crash last April that resulted in the death of 2011 Giro d’Italia champion Michele Scarponi reportedly admitted to authorities investigating the incident that he had been watching a video on his phone at the time of the fatal collision.

Scarponi was on a training ride in his home town of Filottrano in Italy’s Marche region ahead of this year’s 100th edition of the race when he was hit by a van at a junction where he had right of way.

In the immediate aftermath of the collision, the van driver, who is due to go on trial shortly on charges of manslaughter, claimed he had been blinded by the sun.

Now, however, Tuttobiciweb reports that he had told investigators that he was watching a video on his phone.

The website notes that not only does Italy have the highest rates of car ownership in Europe as well as the most elevated level of mobile phone ownership, but also has one of the worst road safety records for cyclists, 338 of whom lost their lives in 2016.

As a result, legislation currently before the Italian parliament may result in drivers caught using a mobile phone at the wheel to have their licences suspended.

This weekend’s Overtime sports festival in Macerata in Scarponi’s home region commemorated the 37-year-old Astana rider, who a week before his death had won opening stage of the Tour of the Alps, the successor race to the Giro del Trentino.

Among those to pay tribute to him was the former world champion Francesco Moser, who said: “I commentated on his final victory, a success that went beyond all predictions.

Scarponi finished the race in fifth position overall.

“The next day they told me he had died,” Moser said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

He added: “Everyone in the peloton mourned him, because he was an example.”

Scarponi’s brother Marco was also present at the event. He said: “Michele was talented, but to become a professional he had the help of something fundamental – his family.

“His family created the perfect environment to allow him to express to the maximum his innate qualities and gifts.

“No man is an island. On our own, we go nowhere.

“Michele had grandparents who accompanied him to training sessions. His mother and father followed him around Italy, a country in which he was a hero. And he became a champion.

“Then he became a father, he grew up. Previously, he always wanted to win and didn’t know how to lose.

“At that point he became transformed into becoming a domestique for his rival Nibali.

“The choice of a man, because he had already won.”

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.