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Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) with Kenny Van Hummel (Skil-Shimano) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) on the podium.
Grand Tour debut postponed for Italian sprinting sensation
With one day to go in the 47th Presidential Tour of Turkey, Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) has met the expectations of his directeur sportif Luca Scinto, who promised him a start at the Giro d’Italia should he win two stages this week. But the sprinter and his mentor have since decided to forget their bet and Guardini will not be on the start line in Turin on May 7.
“It hasn’t been an easy decision to take,” Guardini told Cyclingnews on the finishing line of stage 7 in Manavgat. “I’ll go on holiday after the Tour of Turkey, and I hope to come back in good shape for winning again in the second part of the season. It was a bit of a bet that I’d ride the Giro d'Italia if I won two stages here, but that was more kind of a motivational process.
“Realistically, this year’s Giro isn’t an easy thing and it would be too much. I already feel tired after one week at the Tour of Turkey. I’m still young. I have a full career ahead of me. I know very well what I have to improve, and it’s climbing. All the success I’m already picking up is increasing my motivation to work on my weak point.”
Ever since Guardini won five stages at Le Tour de Langkawi in January, Scinto had it in mind to line him up for the first 12 stages of the Giro d’Italia, where most of the sprinters are expected to pull out in Ravenna instead of transferring to the Dolomites. However, those first 12 days of the race are not altogether straightforward. “The terrain of the first two weeks isn’t flat enough for me,” Guardini said.
“He’s a great sprinter in the making,” noted stage 7 runner-up Kenny van Hummel (Skil-Shimano). “He’s going to win a lot at the Giro d’Italia and at the Tour de France.”
As part of a Pro Continental Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli squad that has an invitation to only one Grand Tour this year, the 22-year-old Guardini will postpone his debut in a three week race until next year. His team will be led at the Giro by Italian champion Giovanni Visconti.
The baton might have been passed between two generations of Italian sprinters in Manavgat when Petacchi congratulated Guardini for his victory. The veteran didn’t exactly look happy to see the youngster taking over, but at least he’ll ride one more Giro d’Italia free of Guardini, who has definitely entered the circle of the giants by outsprinting no less a line-up than van Hummel, Tyler Farrar, André Greipel and Petacchi. He is no longer seen as the rookie who travelled far away from Europe to open his account on the paradisiacal island of Langkawi against the best sprinters from Asia.
“In my mind, all the victories have an equal value even though there are bigger names behind me today,” Guardini said. “I’ve got eight now, with five in Malaysia, one in Qatar and two here. They’ve all required a lot of effort.”
With eight wins, Guardini is the most successful pro cyclist in the world this year ahead of Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lott) who has seven victories under his belt, Alberto Contador and Thomas Voeckler who have six, if one takes into account only international races of category 1 and above.
“I’m impressed myself by what I’m achieving,” Guardini said. “I didn’t think that I’d be beating those big names after four months as a professional rider!”