Vini Fantini sprinter takes important first win of 2013
The fast and straight run into the finish on stage 4 at Tour de Langkawi proved ideal for Francesco Chicchi to get his first win of the season for his new Vini Fantini - Selle Italia team. Chicchi celebrated his unmatched turn of speed with a 'this is how you do it' salute, gesturing he was playing the violin while hauling past the photographers lined metres from the finishing banner.
The Italian sprinter signed for Vini Fantini at the end of 2012 after having spent two successful years at Omega Pharma - Quick-Step. A change in teams and environment can present its own challenges but Chicchi appears completely at home with the Professional Continental squad.
Last year Chicchi took his first sprint scalp at the Tour de San Luis while riding alongside Tom Boonen, but this time around he failed to make an impact at the Argentine race with his best result seventh place on stage 2.
Taking the win in Langkawi, in what is his first time racing in Malaysia was made all the more important given his Vini Fantini squad has accumulated 11 stage wins in just two editions with its former rider Andrea Guardini - who he narrowly beat to the line on. His salute was his way of expressing the significance of the victory.
"It's a bit difficult for me to explain in English but it means buona fortuna," Chicchi told Cyclingnews.
"Every victory is a new emotion but this victory is fantastic because it is the first one for my new team Vini Fantini," he said.
"I'm very, very happy. This victory, for me is not just one victory but two."
The move to the smaller UK-registered team, which is essentially an Italian squad may have seemed like an odd move for Chicchi who racked-up five wins at Omega Pharma in 2012 but the 32-year-old is passionate about the team he has been with all but a couple of months.
"I moved to a smaller team but all the riders are great friends. When the team is a group of friends it's fantastic. It's important for the team [to get this win]," he said.
With a win on the board for 2013, Chicchi was already eying further success - with the biggest Italian races high on the agenda.
"For the team, Milan-Sanremo and the Giro is very important. We are going to work very hard to win one or two stages at the Giro because the team is Italian - this is normal.
"After this race I go to Tirreno-Adriatico. I'll try to win a stage but it will be very difficult. It's Tirreno! The stages are very long and with plenty of very good riders but I worked very hard in the winter. I think it's possible for me to continue to sprint very well.
Waiting in the holding pen before stepping on stage to collect his accolades Chicchi added he was extremely happy with his new equipment, pointing to his Cipollini leaning against the barriers. Chicchi may not lay-down the same wattage as the bike manufacturer's owner Mario but his impressive numbers were good enough for the win today.
"The new bike is really good. Today, I think I put out 1,600 watts but my highest number is about 1,700 maximum. When it's so hot, like here [at Langkawi], it is very difficult to put out too much power but I'm happy with my condition," he said.