Antonio Tiberi overcame a brutal start, then powered to victory in the junior men’s individual time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire, England, on Monday.
Rolling out of the start gate in Harrogate, the Italian managed all of one pedal stroke before his cranks came loose, forcing an immediate bike change. But instead of losing his cool, Tiberi remained calm, waiting for his new bike and then starting anew. The unscheduled stop cost him at least a dozen seconds, yet he still managed to post a blistering 38:28 time around the ever-rolling and technical 13.7km course that riders circled twice. His average speed was a sizzling 43.046kph.
Then the waiting game began, as Tiberi watched rider after rider swing and miss at what turned out to be his unbeatable mark. Dutchman Enzo Leijnse came closest, finishing second at 0:08, while German Marco Brenner claimed bronze, at 0:13.
American Quinn Simmons, who was second at August’s Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race, just missed the podium in Yorkshire, slotting fourth at 0:20. The Durango, Colorado resident matched Tiberi’s time at the early checkpoints, but faded at the end. Compatriot Michael Garrison ended up 17th in the 63-rider field, nearly 2 minutes behind Tiberi.
When the final rider crossed the line, Tiberi momentarily covered his face in disbelief, then held back tears while exchanging high fives with his fellow world’s medalists. It was a remarkable end to a jaw dropping ride. After the bike change, the Italian shot through the first time check at 6.3km in 25th place, nearly 30 seconds down of the then fastest time, which belonged to Leijnse.
But instead of losing hope (and who could have blamed him if he had) Tiberi turned up the heat, relentlessly clawing his way back into contention on the sunny but cool day in northern England. He was sixth fastest at the end of the first lap, and had moved up to fourth with 20.2km complete.
At the finish, Tiberi was first, but he had to figure his time in the hot seat would not last. But as more and more riders failed to beat him, hope escalated. Finally when fellow Italian and European TT champ Andrea Piccolo (a rider who’d beaten Tiberi throughout 2019) rolled through in sixth, the new world champion could celebrate.