In one of the more bizarre stories to come out of the pro cycling world in 2023 (so far), Trek-Segafredo's promising 21-year-old Antonio Tiberi has been fined €4,000 for shooting and killing a cat belonging to Federico Pedini Amati, the former head of state and current Minister of Tourism for San Marino.
Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera reported the news, sharing the court report which tells how Tiberi shot the animal with an air rifle from the window of his San Marino apartment.
The pet had been adopted by Pedini Amati, the political figure who served as Captain Regent, one of the landlocked country's joint heads of state that are elected every six months, between 1 April 2008 and October 2008 and is now a minister.
A few hours after the news broke in the Italian press, Trek-Segafredo released a statement, in which the team described Tiberi's actions as "reprehensible" and announcing that he has been suspended without pay for a minimum of 20 days.
Team statement regarding Antonio Tiberi case: pic.twitter.com/vFpxHPXazW
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) February 28, 2023
"He fired shots in the direction of Via Istriani"
According to the court report, Tiberi "positioned himself with an air rifle – a Hatsan BT65 SB Elite model – at the window of the apartment where he lives in San Marino" before firing "shots in the direction of Via Istriani, deliberately hitting the skull of a moving cat". He was fined €4,000 in court and had the air rifle confiscated.
After the shooting, on June 21 last year, Pedini Amati, 46, found his injured pet and called the police who rushed to the scene. An investigation showed the animal had died instantly, leaving the Minister of Tourism in San Marino disappointed with what he sees as too lenient a sentence.
"The cat did not disturb anyone," the minister said. "He has been with us for a long time. My daughter Lucia, three years old, loved it. You can't kill a pet and get away with a €4,000 fine."
And while Pedini Amati said he appreciated Tiberi admitting the offence, he suggested that "people like that" should not be accepted in San Marino.
The young pro cyclist who has enjoyed success throughout his short career, landing top tens at WorldTour races and winning the junior TT at the World Championships in Harrogate in 2019, bought the weapon in the days before the incident and told the court he had simply been trying to "test the gun's firing capabilities".
"For example, I was aiming for a traffic sign," he said. "And I admit that I – stupidly and unconsciously – tried to catch a cat… To my surprise I really hit it… I had no intention of killing the animal. In fact, I was convinced that the weapon was not lethal."
In a statement released via A&J All Sports management, Tiberi again insisted it "was not my intention to kill the cat; it was an accident" but accepted his actions were "tremendously stupid and irresponsible".
Statement Antonio Tiberi himself pic.twitter.com/HqbYj2NIZ5
— José Been (@JoseBeenTV) February 28, 2023
The news of the court case puts a sour note on the young Italian's strong start to 2023, finishing eighth on GC and fourth on stage five of Tour Down Under, as well as securing a seventh-place finish at UAE Tour, the race where in 2021 he made headlines for crashing across the finish line during the TT.
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) February 26, 2023
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.