Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani-CSF) says that he will fight to keep his leader’s jersey, after he claimed victory on stage 3 of the Tour of Britain. "I’m not bad in time trials but I’m not a specialist. I’ll lose a bit there but maybe I can try and pick up a bigger gap in the next few stages. But it won’t be easy," he said after stepping onto the podium to claim his yellow jersey.
"As a team, beyond coming here to win stages, we came here with the GC as an aim for Francesco Manuel Bongiorno and me. Today, I managed to win and take the jersey and now we have the obligation to try and defend it until Sunday."
After taking 10 bonus seconds at the finish, the Italian rider sits just 13 seconds ahead of the next rider, Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). Zardini wasn’t on the radar of many of the big teams, but he got the jump on the main contenders with less than three kilometres remaining. It seemed as though he had perhaps jumped the gun, when he was caught and subsequently passed by Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo), but another dig dispatched the Irishman and allowed him to take a solo win.
"I saw at a certain point that Roche was coming back up. I was going flat out, but I caught my breath for a moment before he got back up to me. He dropped me but not by much," he explained. "If I had continued at that rhythm, I’d have blown up and they’d have caught me. Instead, I sat up for a moment, I let him think that maybe I was finished, and then I attacked again to take this fantastic victory."
This season Bardiani has become a team accustomed to getting one over on the bigger WorldTour teams. They laid claim to three stages at the Giro d’Italia. In April, neo-pro, Zardini took his first professional win by dropping the likes of Cadel Evans and Domenico Pozzovivo on the second stage of the Giro del Trentino. It is only his second year in the professional peloton, but he is making waves already.
"I picked up some placings last year but this year I’ve made a leap in quality and I won a stage of the Giro del Trentino in April. After that, I showed myself at the Giro d’Italia and now I’ve taken my second win of the season here in a truly important race.
"We’re a team of young riders but very aggressive and we always look to do our best in every race. We know we’re up against very strong opponents but we don’t shy away from that and we manage to pick off a lot of wins."
Holding onto the yellow jersey when he’s got the likes of Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Tinkoff-Saxo and Sky baying at his back is a challenge, but one that the young Italian is not going to shy away from.