While it took three participations for Graeme Brown to reach a total of nine stage wins at Le Tour de Langkawi (in 2002, 2003 and 2005), Andrea Guardini became the new record man in the 17th edition of the Malaysian race – and all within only his second year as a professional cyclist.
“To bag ten victories here in only two years is special to me”, said the Italian after winning stage 9 in Kuala Terengganu. “Le Tour de Langkawi is special to me because that’s where I started my pro career last year and I won straight away. It’s also where I’ve started winning this year.”
Guardini has remained unbeaten in the five bunch gallops so far. He’s has a serious chance to become the first rider to win six stages in the same edition of the Malaysian event as the grand finale in Kuala Terengganu suits him at perfection.
“I’m now equal on points with [Astana’s Valentin] Iglinskiy in the points classification, so the blue jersey isn’t definitely mine yet but my priority on Sunday will remain to win the stage”, Guardini said.
“I don’t want to use energy and my teammates for the hot spot sprints.”
After the crash of Rafael Andriato on stage 2, Farnese Vini was reduced to five riders but the Drapac team gave them a big hand to catch the four-man breakaway made of Anthony Charteau (Europcar), Nathan Haas (Garmin-Barracuda), David McCann (RTS) and Jacques Janse van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka).
Guardini dedicated his fifth stage victory to his sponsor. Valentino Sciotti, the CEO of Farnese Vini, followed the race in the team car with directeur sportif Stefano Giuliani. As he was on a business trip between Singapore and Tokyo’s wine exhibition, he made an enjoyable detour on the east coast of Malaysia.
“He’s got a great passion for cycling and he makes a lot of sacrifices for us to ride”, Guardini said. “It’s the right time for me to thank him.”
The 22-year-old from Verona knows that the world of cycling already expects him to confirm his Malaysian achievements in Europe against a stronger opposition. “I already demonstrated last year that I’m able to beat some of the big names of the sprint,” said Guardini who outsprinted the likes of Andre Greipel and Alessandro Petacchi at the Presidential Tour of Turkey.
“I didn’t manage to get a win in my first three stage races of this year (Tour of San Luis, Tour of Qatar, Tour of Oman) but since I started in Argentina, my form has kept improving. For sure, it’s been an advantage for me in Malaysia to have done those three races before.”
Guardini will make his debut in a Grand Tour atthe Giro d’Italia starting on May 5 in Denmark.