Team Astana will head into the centenary edition of the Giro d'Italia one rider down in tribute to former team-mate Michele Scarponi.
Cycling Central

1 May 2017 - 1:23 PM 

Scarponi, who was set to lead Astana’s in the 5-28 May Grand Tour after team leader Fabio Aru was ruled out due to injury, was tragically killed by a motorist while on a training ride last week.

The team will field only eight of the nine rostered riders after manager Alexandre Vinokourov opted not to replace him.

“To honour the memory of our Italian rider Michele Scarponi, who tragically died last week while training, Astana Proteam renounces the opportunity to substitute the designated captain and will ride the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia with eight riders instead of nine,” said a team statement.

Scarponi laid to rest in Filottrano
Thousands of mourners turned out on Tuesday for the funeral of Michele Scarponi as the Astana rider was laid to rest in his hometown of Filottrano.

“What happened to Michele is a real tragedy. It is a huge blow for the whole team," Vinokurov said. “Michele should have been our leader for the Giro and for this reason we decided not to substitute Michele in the line-up for the race, leaving his race number free.

“Every day in this Giro d’Italia as well as in all other races Michele will be with us and day by day we will ride trying to honor his memory, fighting and smiling as he taught us all to do.”

The Astana roster is filled by Pello Bilbao, Zhandos Bizhigitov, Dario Cataldo, Jesper Hansen, Tanel Kangert, Luis Leon Sanchez, Paolo Tiralongo and Andrey Zeits.

Scarponi killed in road accident while training
Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi has died at the age of 37 after being hit by a van while training.