Riders mark the start of Liège-Bastogne-Liège with a round of applause for Michele Scarponi, who died after colliding with a truck on Saturday

The peloton paid tribute to Michele Scarponi at the start of Liège-Bastogne-Liège in Belgium on Sunday with a round of applause.

After a speech by race director Christian Prudhomme, the assembled riders gave a long round of applause to pay their respect to Scarponi, who died after being hit by a truck during a training ride on Saturday.

Scarponi’s Astana team-mates sat at the front of the bunch in the opening kilometres. They all wore black arm bands, with other members of the peloton also wearing black arm-bands or black bows pinned to their jerseys.

The Astana team had not attended the official team presentation for the race on Saturday as they recovered from the news of Scarponi’s death.

The 37-year-old Italian was on a morning training ride when he was in collision with a truck near his home in Filottrano, central Italy. He died at the scene from his injuries.

Last week, Scarponi had won a stage of the Tour of the Alps and finished fourth overall. He was due to lead Astana at the Giro d’Italia in May.

>>> Michele Scarponi, 1979-2017: a ‘devastating and sad loss’ to the cycling world

Scarponi had not been due to ride in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but had a long association with the race, having ridden in six editions and finished in the top 10 on four occasions.

Michele Scarponi. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

On Saturday afternoon, many riders spoke of their shock and sadness at the loss of a well-liked member of the peloton.

“It’s devastating and sad, and the fact that I was racing with him and battling for the win 24 hours ago,” said Geraint Thomas, who had raced Scarponi at the Tour of the Alps.

“It’s crazy and doesn’t seem real.”