Bahrain-Merida rider celebrates Giro stage ‘win’ – 6km before the finish… and seven other classic finish line fails

Don't worry Luka Pibernik, you're not the first to celebrate too early

It was fairytale stuff: in his team leader’s home town, the day after having a team-mate booted off the race, and the day after seeing Slovenian compatriot Jan Polanc bag a stage win, Luka Pibernik bolted off the front of the peloton to foil the sprinters and win stage five of the Giro d’Italia. It almost sounds too good to be true. Because it was.

Pibernik fell for the age-old trick of miscounting the laps – and completely ignoring the lap bell – as he celebrated what he thought was a stage win some six kilometres early.

Luka Pibernik celebrates… a lap too soon (pic: Eurosport)

Arms outstretched as he sat up on the finishing straight to bask in his glory, he turned to check out the peloton – only for the sprint trains to thunder past, well aware there was another lap to complete.

As Fernando Gaviria went on to claim stage victory, Pibernik was left red-faced as he eventually came in 148th place.

But he can at least console himself with the fact he is not the first – and definitely won’t be the last – to celebrate at the wrong time.

Here’s some more riders who probably don’t want to be reminded of their finish line fails…

Luka Pibernik, Giro d’Italia 2017

You have to wonder at what point it sunk in for Luka Pibernik that his solo effort off the front of the peloton had been for nothing, and his celebration was premature.

Could it have been when he finally registered the lap bell, which had been incessantly ringing for most of the final kilometre?

Or maybe when he turned around to see the peloton still going full gas, led by the sprint teams?

Whenever it was, you can’t help but feel he’ll be waking up in a cold sweat remembering the time he wished the Strait of Messina had opened up and engulfed him for quite some time.

“Dear, oh dear,” Rob Hatch called as he crossed the finished line arms outstretched. Dear, oh dear indeed.

Martin Gluth, German National Championships 2016

Former mountain biker Martin Gluth’s 73rd place at the German National Road Race Championships would have passed entirely without comment – had he not been celebrating what he thought was a shock victory a lap earlier.

It’s a personal favourite, not for Gluth’s reaction – punching the air, sitting up and even turning off his bike computer before he realised his error – but for the rider behind him, who facepalms as Gluth starts to celebrate.

Given Andre Greipel, Marcel Kittel, John Degenkolb and former Milan-San Remo winner Gerald Ciolek were all in the race, you have to wonder why the penny didn’t drop earlier as he took the ‘win’ uncontested.

Eloy Teruel, Tour of California 2014

“No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,” the Tour of California finish line commentator frantically shouts as Eloy Teruel celebrates a stage win a lap too early.

The one-time Movistar rider had moved Stateside to ride with the Jamis-Hagens Berman team, and thought he had landed a big coup on stage seven in Pasadena when he attacked solo.

Unfortunately for him, there was still a lap to go – and his look of delight turns to horror at the very end of the video as he realises his error.

Peter Sagan went on to win the stage, while Teruel – now 34 – is still hunting for his first pro victory.

Tom Boonen, Scheldeprijs 2008

Celebrating a lap early is embarrassing, make no mistake, but at least it’s somewhat understandable – anybody can miscount once in their careers.

That wasn’t Tom Boonen’s problem at Scheldeprijs in 2008, however, just three days after he had won Paris-Roubaix for the second time.

Tom Boonen starts to celebrate, as Mark Cavendish steals victory from under his nose (pic – Sirotti)

No, Boonen knew exactly where the finish line was – what he hadn’t quite calculated was where defending champion Mark Cavendish was, or how fast he was going.

Boonen kicked for the line, and went to raise his arms in triumph, only for his celebration to be cut short as out of the corner of his eye, Cavendish flung his bike for the line to triumph instead.

Boonen – who won Scheldeprijs in 2004 and 2006 – never did claim a third victory in the race, but given everything else he won on the cobbles, we think we’ll let him off…

Adam Toupalik, UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships 2016

Czech rider Adam Toupalik was unlucky not once, but twice at the ‘cross Worlds in 2016 – but for the first occasion was entirely of his own doing.

And this was far more than your average ‘punch the air a lap early’ premature celebration – Toupalik gave it the big one as he celebrated what he thought was a rainbow jersey in the under-23 race at Heusden-Zolder.

Geeing the crowd up, he was still punching the air and beaming, oblivious to his error and the fans frantically waving him on for another lap, as the trailing riders continued past him.

Amazingly, when the penny finally dropped, Toupalik actually got back to the front of the race to contest the actual sprint but – presumably knackered from his earlier exertions – the Czech youngster lost out to Belgium’s Eli Iserbyt.

Simon Clarke, Giro d’Italia 2015

It’s not just celebrating early that earns you a place in the book of finish line fails – you can also celebrate too late, as Simon Clarke proved at the Giro d’Italia in 2015.

Orica-GreenEDGE’s Australian ace is, like Pibernik, not the first or last to do this, but he earns a place in this list simply for his rubbish excuse afterwards.

Stage four had been won solo by Cannondale’s Davide Formolo, but Clarke was seemingly unaware of the Italian crossing the line just 30 seconds earlier.

And to be fair to Clarke, it was a hell of a sprint as he came from deep to pass the other riders sprinting for second place – except he celebrated as though he had won when he crossed the line.

He claims he was simply celebrating the fact he had taken the pink jersey with his performance – and probably would have got away with that excuse, had it not been for his hands-on-head reaction when a fellow rider pointed out Formolo, already celebrating, further up the road.

Michael Matthews, Tour de Pologne 2014

We said Clarke wasn’t the first to celebrate a second place, unaware of others up the road, and he wasn’t even the first on his team to do so.

Michael Matthews gave it the full one-fingered salute at the Tour de Pologne in 2014, which in reality should have been two fingers – for second place.

Michael Matthews, oblivious to Petr Vakoc’s solo win, celebrates after prevailing in the sprint for second place… (pic: Sirotti)

Petr Vakoc had accelerated solo and simply hadn’t been brought back – to the extent it seemed most of the peloton were unaware of his presence up the road.

…and then does his best to hide his embarrassment on the podium afterwards (pic: Sirotti)

How many people knew of Matthews mistake at the time may never be known, but his face on the podium afterwards is a picture.

Morgan Kneisky, Tour Series 2015

Jon Mould has won more individual rounds of the Tour Series than any other rider, but the Welshman’s victory in Redditch in 2015 was a huge gift.

French track world champion Morgan Kneisky was leading the sprint out, and probably would have taken victory himself, had he not forgotten the golden rule – always look both ways before celebrating.

A glance over his left shoulder showed the Frenchman only open road as he approached the finish line and he sat up to celebrate.

Mould, tucked in behind his right shoulder, sprinted straight through the now open gap and Kneisky’s triumph turned to despair as he buried his head in his hands at his mistake.

Kneisky did at least have the consolation of winning the points competition on the night, however, and the Raleigh-GAC rider atoned for his error by going on to win the points competition overall that year.


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