Froome and Nibali remember ‘special’ Scarponi
Grand Tour champions Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali, two of many colleagues, friends and fans, reflect on the life and career of fallen Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi, who tragically died two years ago.
Monday marked the two-year anniversary of the death of beloved Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi. Just one day after wrapping the inaugural Tour of the Alps, a race formerly known as Giro del Trentino, the 37-year-old was struck by a car on a training ride near his home in Filottrano on April 22, 2017.
Scarponi scored his last career victory on the opening stage of Alps in what was supposed to serve as a primer for the upcoming Giro d’Italia, a title he won six years previously after Alberto Contador was stripped of the honours. Scarponi had just been named Astana’s leader for the Italian Grand Tour after teammate Fabio Aru (ITA) was pulled due to an injury sustained in a training crash of his own.
Several riders took time throughout this year’s Tour of the Alps to share their thoughts on the life and career of Scarponi, including last year’s Giro winner Chris Froome (Team Sky).
“The biggest thing that stood out for me was just how professional he was, but at the same time just seemed to love his work,” the four-time Tour de France winner told Eurosport. “Loved racing and seemed to always have a good positive energy around him.”
Aside from his overwhelming popularity within the peloton and with fans of the sport worldwide, the affable Scarponi was plagued by doping scandals, including implication in the Operación Puerto blood doping case of 2006, as well as a three-month ban in 2012 for working with Dr. Michele Ferrari.
For long-time British cycling journalist Stephen Farrand, a new appreciation for Scarponi came following his untimely death after reflecting on the impact the three-time Giro stage winner made off the bike with those around him.
“After his tragic death caused by a road accident, which is a big problem for any cyclist, that made me reflect and think about him even more,” continued the Italian-based reporter for Cyclingnews. “When I saw people’s reactions to his death, that made me realise we see cyclists, and they are athletes, but they are human beings as well.”
Froome was not the only winner of all three Grand Tours to fondly remember Scarponi.
“Michele was very important for me,” two-time Giro winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) told Eurosport. “He helped me win a lot of races, but besides that, he was just a special person.
“The other day was his memorial, and I don’t like thinking about his death. It was terrible for me. I want Scarponi always here with me, with his smile, as the person he always was — happy.”