What a day for IPT’s Matthew Riccitello, he’s donned the Yellow Jersey at the Tour de l’Avenir!
After being forced to retire early from the most prestigious U23 stage race last year, the 21-year-old American had promised to make a grand comeback.
And what a comeback it was! Just before starting the challenging twenty-four kilometer climb to the finish, Riccitello had a setback in the form of a crash.
“I thought it was over for a few seconds,” he said. “But I shifted my mindset and focused on catching up and fighting for the lead.”
With invaluable assistance from Team USA, Riccitello found himself on his favorite terrain in the mountains. This ascent was the perfect platform for him to demonstrate his prowess as a climber. After catching up with the leading group, he went head-to-head with Italy’s Davide Piganzoli and Mexico’s Issac del Toro.
While del Toro clinched the stage win atop the iconic Col de la Loze, it was Riccitello who secured the most coveted prize, the Yellow Jersey, as he now sits twenty-five seconds ahead of both the Italian and the Mexican.
“This has been the pinnacle of my career so far,” said Riccitello. “But the challenge remains. We have to defend this lead over the next three stages, and it won’t be easy.”
The Israeli National team continued to impress with their aggressive racing strategy. They set the pace from the get-go, and initiated the day’s first breakaway with Rotem Tene. However, the spotlight was on Nadav Raisberg, who once again proved to be the team’s standout performer. Despite facing mechanical issues, he showcased exceptional pace on the final climb, overtaking several competitors to secure 20th place. This performance has boosted his position to seventeemth in the General Classification. “I can’t recall ever climbing that well before. I was in top form,” Raisberg remarked.