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Scarponi killed in road accident while training

PARIS, April 22 (Reuters) - Michele Scarponi, the 2011 Giro d'Italia champion, has been killed after being hit by a van while training close to his home in Filottrano, Italy, his Astana team said on Saturday.

Scarponi, 37, left home early on Saturday morning for a training ride. The accident happened at a crossroads.

"This is a tragedy too big to be written," Astana said in a statement in English.

"We left a great champion and a special guy, always smiling in every situation, he was ... a landmark for everyone in the Astana Pro Team."

Scarponi, who completed the Tour of the Alps on Friday, after winning a stage and finishing fourth overall, is survived by his wife and two children.

16 PHOTOS
Michele Scarponi's career
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Michele Scarponi's career
Michele Scarponi of Astana Pro Team before the 2nd stage of the cycling Tour of Algarve between Lagoa and Alto do Foia, on February 15, 2017. NURPHOTO/FILIPE AMORIM. (Photo by Filipe Amorim/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Cycling: 99th Tour of Italy 2016 / Stage 20 Michele SCARPONI (ITA)/ Guillestre - Sant'Anna Di Vinadio 2015m (134km)/ Giro / (Photo by Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)
Cycling: 99th Tour of Italy 2016 / Team Astana Michele SCARPONI (Ita)/ Press Conference Team ASTANA (Kaz)/ Giro / (Photo by KT/Tim De Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)
Cycling: 40th Giro Del Trentino 2016/ Stage 4 SCARPONI Michele (ITA)/ family/ son/ wife/ Male - Cles (160,9Km)/ Tour Trentino/ Etape Rit (c) Tim De WaeleRS/Tim De Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)
Cycling: 102nd Tour de France / Stage 19 SCARPONI Michele (Ita)/ MOLLEMA Bauke (Ned)/ St-Jean-de-Maurienne - La Toussuire - Les Sybelles (138 Km)/ Ronde van Frankrijk TDF / Etape Rit /�Tim De Waele (Photo by Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)
Michele Scarponi of Italy riding for Astana Pro Team is pictured near the starting line during the 2015 Tour of France, Stage 6, Abbeville - Le Havre, on July 9, 2015. The 102nd edition of the Tour de France cycling race gets underway on July 4 in the streets of Utrecht and ends on July 26, 2015 down the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Photo Manuel Blondeau/AOP Press/Corbis (Photo by AOP.Press/Corbis via Getty Images)
Cycling: 54th Vuelta Pais Vasco 2015/ Stage 1 Michele SCARPONI (Ita) Bilbao-Bilbao (162.7Km) Tour Ronde Baskenland/ Etape Rit/ (c)Tim De Waele (Photo by Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)
Cycling: 54th Vuelta Pais Vasco 2015/ Stage 1 Michele SCARPONI (Ita) Bilbao-Bilbao (162.7Km) Tour Ronde Baskenland/ Etape Rit/ (c)Tim De Waele (Photo by Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)
BERGERAC, FRANCE - JULY 25: Michele Scarponi of Italy and Astana Pro Team in action during the nineteenth stage of the 2014 Tour de France, a 208km stage between Maubourguet Pays du Val d'Adour and Bergerac, on July 25, 2014 in Maubourguet Pays du Val d'Adour, France. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Cycling: 8th Tour de San Luis 2014 / Stage 5 SCARPONI Michele (ITA)/ San Luis - San Luis (19,2Km)/ Time Trial Contre La Montre Tijdrit TT / Etape Rit Ronde (c) Tim De Waele (Photo by Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)
Cycling: 97th Tour of Italy 2014 / Presentation Ivan BASSO (Ita)/ Vincenzo NIBALI (Ita)/ Michele SCARPONI (Ita)/ Cadel EVANS (Usa) Giro / Tour Italie Ronde van Italie / Tour Ronde /(c)Tim De Waele (Photo by Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)
Cycling: 96th Tour of Italy 2013 / Stage 16 SCARPONI Michele (Ita)/ Valloire - Ivrea (238km)/ Giro Tour Italie Ronde van Italie / Rit Etape /(c)Tim De Waele (Photo by Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)
Cycling : 99th Tour de France 2012 / Stage 19 Michele Scarponi (Ita)/ Bonneval - Chartres (53,5Km)/ Time Trial Contre la Montre Tijdrit TT / Ronde van Frankrijk TDF / Rit Stage /(c)Tim De Waele (Photo by Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)
Cycling : 95th Tour of Italy 2012 / Stage 20 Illustration Illustratie / Stelvio (2757m)/ Mountains Montagnes Bergen / Landscape Paysage Landschap / Ryder Hesjedal (Can)/ Michele Scarponi (Ita)/ Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Pink Jersey / Ivan Basso (Ita)/ Hubert Dupont (Fra)/ John Gadret (Fra)/ Snow Neige Sneeuw / Caldes / Val Di sole - Passo Dello Stelvio (219Km)/ Giro Italia Italie / Ronde Rit Etape /(c)Tim De Waele (Photo by Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)
ASCOLI PICENO, ITALY - MARCH 12: Michele Scarponi of Team Lampre-ISD looks on ahead of stage six of the 2012 Tirreno-Adriatico on March 12, 2012 in Offida near Ascoli Piceno, Italy. (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)
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He started his professional career in 2002 and his best results were in Italian races, winning three stages on the Giro before being handed the 2011 title after Alberto Contador was stripped of his victory because of a retroactive doping ban.

He also had good results in one-day races, finishing fourth on the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic in 2003.

Scarponi was suspended for 18 months after being implicated in the Operation Puerto blood doping scandal in 2006.

After he returned from suspension, he won the Tirreno-Adriatico in 2009 and the Tour of Catalonia in 2011.

Tributes poured onto social media as riders remembered one of their friendliest colleagues.

Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet wrote: "We will miss this guy in the peleton, always with a smile."

Contador, Scarponi's team mate in 2005 and 2006, said: "Paralysed and speechless ... great person and always with a contagious smile. Rest in peace my friend."

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