Astana Proteam have decided to start the Giro d’Italia with 8 riders rather than 9 to honour the memory of their Italian rider Michele Scarponi, who tragically died last week while training.
“What has happened to Michele is a real tragedy that no one could expect or face out,” said general manager of the team Alexander Vinokourov. “It is a huge blow for the whole team. Michele should have been our leader for the Giro and in 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 honour his memory, fighting and smiling as he taught us all to do.”
The complete roster of Astana Proteam for the 100th Giro d’Italia is: Pello Bilbao, Zhandos Bizhigitov, Dario Cataldo, Jesper Hansen, Tanel Kangert, Luis Leon Sanchez, Paolo Tiralongo and Andrey Zeits. The team will be directed by Alexandr Shefer, Giuseppe Martinelli and Stefano Zanini.
“I think, this is right decision and I am sure the organisers of the Giro d’Italia as well as the whole cycling community will accept and understand it. Obviously, this will not the only initiative that Astana Proteam is promoting to remember Michele and also to help his family. We initiated such an important thing as the fundraiser for his family, while many others will be developed in the next weeks and months,” added Vinokourov.