Luka Pibernik thought he was having the moment of his life – a stage win in the Giro d'Italia and in front of thousands of rabid fans in his teammate Vincenzo Nibali's hometown of Messina. The problem was he attacked ahead of the bell lap, and as he erroneously raised his arms in triumph, he never heard his Bahrain-Merida team telling him there were still six kilometres to go.
"The problem is that his radio battery was flat and so he didn't hear us call him," Nibali said in the post-race RAI interview. "He didn't know there was a lap to go and so the gaff happened. He's young, thing like that can happen."
Pibernik can take heart that he is in good company with this kind of embarrassing mistake: his Bahrain-Merida teammate Ramunas Navardauskas thought he'd won a stage in the 2013 Giro d'Italia. Having left his radio behind, he didn't realise Giovanni Visconti had already won solo. Eloy Teruel celebrated a lap too early thinking he'd won a stage of the 2014 Tour of California.
There are also numerous examples of sprinters throwing their hands up only to be pipped at the line by a hard-charging rival – perhaps a more heartbreaking scenario than Pibernik's, and one that most famously deprived Erik Zabel of the victory in the 2004 Milan-San Remo.
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