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 adrift of the winners.
Lukasz Wisniowski, Michael Gogl and Simon Clarke were key throughout and in particular when Andreas Stokbro, Matteo Pelucchi and Sean Bennett were caught up in a crash with 6km to go. All three were able to ride to the finish line and were checked over by our team doctor, who will continue to monitor them overnight.
I feel good, I definitely didn’t think that I would have such good legs because of the preparation but in the end I was well-placed and I maybe spent a little bit too much to get in place at the bottom of the climb.
I didn’t have the confidence to go too early but in the end I manged to be top-five and I’m looking forward now to the coming days.
Gino Van Oudenhove – Sports Director
We had a good plan for today and of course with quite a few new riders on the team, to see the commitment and the work they did gives us good hope for the future.
Of course the 4th place for Giacomo was a big plus and motivates us in the team very much to do even better in the future.