Jacopo Guarnieri, 21, made the first step toward translating his prolific wins as an amateur into the professional ranks with a solid sprint victory in the third stage of the Tour of Poland on Tuesday.
The Italian of team Liquigas nabbed his first win as a professional ahead of seasoned sprinters Allan Davis and André Greipel on the 225km stage from Bielsk Podlaski to Lublin.
Guarnieri earned a spot on the Liquigas team in 2008 as a trainee after a successful amateur career. "I am not sure exactly, but it was more or less 15 wins a season," Guarnieri told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
He began his first professional season with the team at the Tour Down Under in January. Upon his return to Europe, he came close to victory, taking second only to Italy's great sprinter, Alessandro Petacchi, at the GP Etruschi in February
Since then, victory has eluded the young Italian, but after a rest during the month of July, he restarted his season with more success at the Tour of Poland. He finished the first two stages in fourth and 15th before perfecting his sprint on stage three.
"What did I say to you after the first two sprints? I used them to measure things, even if I had already understood I had that little extra than the others."
Guarnieri sprinted ahead of Davis, Greipel and fellow Italian Danilo Napolitano to take the victory in Poland, thanks to perfect positioning by teammates Maciej Bodnar, Manuel Quinziato and Daniel Oss.
"I am always asking for a hand, that's how I got my nickname," said Guarnieri, who is known as the 'Prince'.
The Tour of Poland continues today with a stage to Rzeszów, a likely sprint finish and a chance for Guarnieri to up his season's average to two wins. The race enters the mountains tomorrow and Liquigas will start to work for Ivan Basso.