Amateur cyclist, Rosario Poli, 64 years-old from the Italian city of Monza, died while competing in the Giro Sardegna gran fondo stage race on the Mediterranean island of Sardegna on Thursday morning according to the organizer.

The GiroSardegna, with great emotion, announces that today, following an illness, a cyclist friend of ours who had been participating in the event for 5 days passed away. The whole organization of the GiroSardegna expresses the deepest condolences for what happened and gathers around the family.”

Wearing bib number 21, Poli was less than seven kilometers from the finish of the fifth stage when he pulled off the course, stopped, parked his bike and collapsed to the ground. A race follow vehicle immediately stopped with a doctor jumping out to provide emergency care, including chest compressions, until ambulance arrived. The ambulance crew applied a defibrillator, but could not resuscitate Poli who died on scene.

Poli was participating in the amateur race while on holiday with family and friends who requested the event continue in his honor. On Friday, former Italian National Road Champion Fabio Aru, who resides in Sardegna, along with Poli’s friends and teammates, led a non-competitive ride of silence to honor their fallen friend in lieu of racing the final stage.

Giuseppe Porcheddu, the local mayor, echoed everyones heartbroken thoughts, “His disappearance is a tragedy that touches us all, as we were preparing to return to normal after two years of suffering.”

Photos: Poli, Giro Sardegna