Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) was a frustrated spectator as Italy failed to secure a medal in the under 23 road race at the UCI World Championships last week. Although he has 11 wins to his name in the professional ranks this season, Guardini was eligible to race among the under 23s according to UCI rules because his trade team is not part of the WorldTour.
The Italian federation, however, ultimately decided not to bring the sprinter or any other ProbContinental riders to Copenhagen while some other countries opted to include such riders. For example, the under 23 race was won by France’s Arnaud Démare, who rode for FDJ in the second half of this season.
While Guardini accepted his non-selection, he noted the discrepancy in approaches. "I don’t think the Italian federation’s policy is right, because it goes against what the rest of the world is doing,” Guardini told ciclismoweb.net. “I think a lot of it needs to be looked at again – the others bring professionals because their amateur teams are Continental teams.
“The Italian scene hasn’t evolved like in other countries, where they have a different concept and where the Continental teams race with the under 23 teams.”
In spite of his disappointment at missing out on Worlds selection, Guardini has enjoyed a hugely successful debut season as a professional. He got off to a flying start by rattling off five stages at the Tour de Langkawi, and continued winning throughout the year, with victories at the Tour of Qatar, Tour of Tukey and Giro di Padania.
“This first year has been fantastic as it is, because it was unexpected,” Guardini said. “It went well and I took it as it came. Everything was a novelty, I couldn’t have any pretensions beforehand. Next year, we’ll think about the rest.”
Guardini will end his season at the Circuit Franco-Belge, which gets under way on Thursday. “I’m convinced I can do well in this last race. The four stages are suited to sprinters,” he said.
Next season, Guardini will be joined by another marquee name at Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli, as Filippo Pozzato is joining from Katusha.
“Many are criticising him for the choice, but I think it was the right choice, dictated by the period,” Guardini said. “It’s the right team in which to relaunch himself, first as a man and then as a rider. Luca Scinto is the best person to encourage a rider. Look at Oscar Gatto’s case – he was in crisis and then he came to win a stage at the Giro d’Italia.”