Young Italian grabs 3rd in stage 4
Having spent the first half of the French stage race working to protect the race lead of Mads Pedersen, Antonio Tiberi relished the opportunity to fight for a result on his own terrain – the mountains.
“I am very satisfied with today’s result but, above all, with the sensations I had” says Antonio. “I felt a tangible jump in quality compared to last year, I was feeling perfectly comfortable among the big guys. It was a feeling I missed last year and having it in the first race of the year gives me great confidence for the coming events.”
The fourth stage featured just two categorized climbs: a second category ascent 30 kilometres before the summit finish atop Mount Bouquet. The stage was rolling all day, with barely a flat stretch of road in all the 147 kilometers. New arrival Tony Gallopin rose to the occasion and spent the day in the breakaway through the beautiful roads of Gard in southern France.
The remnants of the breakaway were caught on the final climb, a 4.6 kilometre stretch at 9.1% gradient – not an easy climb after such a taxing day. Tiberi kept his head down in the early stage of the climb as the lead group was whittled down by a fast pace. An attack by Jay Vine and Tobias Johannessen finally drew out our Italian, who sensed this was a move to follow. At first, Tiberi was caught in no-man’s-land between the leaders and the peloton, but as the front duo slowed up in the final few hundred meters, the former junior world time trial champion kept plugging away and made the catch.
A fourth rider snuck into the group just before the final dash for the finish. Tiberi’s turn of speed and lunge for the line were enough to seal a podium finish on the Queen Stage.
“Our goal for the day was to help Skujins to stay in the top ten overall [mission accomplished, Toms is still 8th]. When we reached the foot of the final climb, my feeling was still really good and I said to myself ‘let’s give it a try’. I was in the middle of the peloton in that moment and it cost me time to recover. When I caught the lead, I had just a moment to breath before jumping into the wheels of Johannessen and Vine. At 400 meters, on the last hard ramp, I gave it my all, trying to go solo to win. It didn’t work, but however I’m very happy with what I was able to do.”
“Etoile de Besseges has been a crescendo for me. Day after day I have felt better and better. At the end, I’m also a little bit sorry for having lost precious time in the first stage, otherwise now I could have looked at the GC with a different eye. Tomorrow there is the time trial, my specialty: another opportunity to do well” ends Tiberi.
As well as for Antonio’s podium, Trek-Segafredo today can be satisfied also for the 7th place of Bauke Mollema.