The European and Italian champion, Giacomo Nizzolo, fought to a strong fourth place on the opening stage of Etoile de Besseges in the team’s first proud outing as Team Qhubeka ASSOS. The 32-year-old Italian benefited from excellent teamwork throughout the day with the single goal of positioning Nizzolo perfectly ahead of the final steep climb to the line in Bellegarde. It was Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) and Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic) who eventually fought it out for line honours, with the former taking victory. Nizzolo showed some excellent early-season form and was just shaded by former world champion Mads Pedersen, as they were fastest among the group two seconds.