HORSENS, Denmark - The mayor of Horsens died during a sportive to celebrate the Giro d'Italia's departure of the third stage from his town.

Jan Trøjborg collapsed in a ditch during the ride; he was immediately flown by air ambulance to Skejby Hospital but medics were unable to revive him. The 56 year old is said to have suffered a massive heart attack.

Trøjborg was a member of the Danish Parliament for 18 years until his election as Mayor of Horsens in 2005. He held several Cabinet positions including Minister of Industry, Minister of Traffic, Minister of Business and Industry, Minister of Research, Minister for Development Cooperation and Defence Minister.

The Giro's third stage will start and finish in Horsens today with Mark Cavendish the hot favourite. Alongside Trøjborg the Tour will also remember Wouter Weylandt, the Leopard Trek rider who died on Stage 3 of the Giro last year after crashing on a descent.

The municipality’s communications director, Lars Bjørn Petersen, said in a statement that Trøjborg had collapsed into a ditch while riding his bike. He was taken by air ambulance to Skejby Hospital, but it proved impossible to resuscitate him.