Guardini sprints to second in Abu Dhabi Tour opener

Italian nearly repeats 2015 stage 1 win in desert race

Andrea Guardini (Bardiani-CSF) earned his best result so far this season Wednesday at the Abu Dhabi Tour, nearly duplicating the stage 1 win he took there in 2015. The 28-year-old Italian finished behind stage winner Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and ahead of Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors).

"We can be really happy. Being second behind Kristoff, and leaving behind a stellar cast of sprinters is a great result" said Guardini, who started his season with fourth- and sixth-place stage results at the Colombia Oro Y Paz.

"The first race I did in Colombia left me a good impression about my form, and today I had the confirmation," he said. "I'm happy also for the feeling with my new teammates: today's lead out was almost perfect."

Guardini joined the Italian Pro Continental team after four years on the WorldTour with Astana and last year with UAE Team Emirates, which signed Kristoff for the sprints this year.

Guardini waited patiently on Wednesday as Ewan lit out too early and was eventually overcome by Kristoff before the line. Guardini's timing allowed him to slip past Ewan as well, capturing the runner-up result.

"I knew the finale and the risk of head wind," Guardini said. "We followed other trains until 200 meters, then I found the right way to make my own sprint, thanks also to Ewan's proper behaviour. Now I hope to exploit in the best way the next two chances."

Guardini's sucessful effort was aided by teammate Vincenzo Albanese, who infiltrated the day's breakaway and placed second in both intermediate sprints, positioning himself for a run at the sprint jersey. The 21-year-old Italian is also tied on time in the best young rider classification with Ewan, who won the jersey on the basis of his third-place finish. 

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